“A filmmaker whose restless, intelligent camera eye is always fixed on the fresh and illuminating phrase, gesture, moment.” – John Powers, L.A. Weekly
“A committed and often controversial purveyor of uncomfortable home truths.”
– Ian Traynor, The (London) Guardian
“For decades, Axel Corti fought with words and pictures for humanity and tolerance, and against hate, racism and shutting people out. With numerous films, he made a considerable contribution to the fight against forgetfulness, falsification and denial of Austrians’ responsibility for the horrific deeds of Nazism.”
– Former Austrian Culture Minister Rudolf Scholten
Axel Corti, one of Austria’s most important theater and film directors and journalists, was born in Paris in 1933. Spending his childhood in France, Italy, Switzerland, England, Germany, and Austria, he was educated at 13 different schools, and while attending the university he focused on German and Romance languages and literature, although he was also schooled in agriculture. At the end of World War II, the Corti family moved to Austria, where Corti began work at the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) in the late 1950s.
Corti’s work as in the theater began in 1958. Two years later he was invited to the Vienna Burgtheater, where he began as assistant to many of Austria’s leading stage directors. Within a few years he was writing and directing major productions in Austria and throughout Europe. Corti began directing for television and film in the 1960s and is best know outside of Austria for the sweeping and groundbreaking film trilogy Where to and Back (God Does Not Believe in Us Anymore; Santa Fe; Welcome in Vienna) produced between 1982 and 1987, and the critically acclaimed feature A Woman’s Pale Blue Handwriting.
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In 1968 Corti launched a weekly news and opinion radio program to which he was dedicated until he died. Well known and respected, but not always loved, for his regular commentaries on domestic politics and the arts, Corti was a leading figure on the Austrian cultural scene for over thirty years in a career that included television, radio, and film writing and directing, opera production, championing modern Austrian drama and literature, and teaching. Corti was the recipient of many prestigious awards and prizes for these and other works. He died of leukemia in 1993.
Listen: NPR's Fresh Air Feature on the Axel Corti's Where to and Back Trilogy
1933 - 1993