Belgrade International Film Festival

"Henker - Der Tot hat ein Gesicht" or "Hangmen" by Jens Becker

Jens Becker was nominated for an Oscar in 1991, in the category of student films. Also, he was one of the best students from Wim Wender's Art Academy.

Becker?s film asks: What is an Executioner? The hangman? Is he a killer, or is he just a person with a licence to kill? Is this 800-year-old profession dying out because of new laws which set other ways of executing people?

"Hangmen" is an unusual documentary that was made and finished after five years of European research on the profession of the professional killer with a licence, the hangman. This is the trade that shows its face only before someone's death. The documentary follows the stories of professional hangmen of different nationalities: about their emotions and the job, about their relationship to death and to the convicted, about the extended hand of justice, in the death chamber or on the gallows. The film-maker has tried to present seven different psychological portraits of professional hangmen. Every society has them, and in every society they are a taboo subject, a subject that is accepted but not very nice to talk about over dinner.

"I wanted to lead the hangmen that I have interviewed in this film, to give the moral evaluation of their life, which is very hard. I have tried to drop off all the clichés and prejudice before I even got their trust to open themselves to my camera,"Becker explained. Did they evaluate the morality of their profession? No, I don't think so. The Hangmen are still taboo.



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