Austria's filmmaker Michael Haneke (The Piano Player, Funny Games) was awarded the 'Golden Decoration" for services to the city of Vienna at a ceremony in the Austrian capital's City Hall on October 28 (Monday).

'It is thanks to Michael Haneke that Austria today enjoys the reputation of being an exciting film nation,' said Vienna's executive city councillor for cultural affairs Paul Andreas Mailath-Pokorny. 'With his films he was able to garner much sought after and respected prizes at international festivals. In doing so, he proved that one can also have success with merciless, critical and political films.'

In his words of thanks, Haneke explained that 'this distinction is also a distinction for Austrian cinema. Gestures like this contribute to helping cinema in Austria to a better standing. Film as an art form has a lesser status in the public sphere in Austria than literature, music and theatre. I am working at this changing in the future.'

Haneke is currently in postproduction on his latest feature Wolfszeit, starring Isabelle Huppert, Patrice Chereau and Beatrice Dalle, which was produced by his 'regular' Austrian production company Wega-Film in co-production with France's Les Films du Losange and Les Films Alain Sarde (F), and Germany's Bavaria Film.