Katharina Mückstein

Austria, 2018 / 96 min / German original version (DE OV) / drama

Rebellious Mati’s world is turned upside down when her best friend falls in love with her while her father struggles with a long-kept secret.

Mati and her gang of boys cruise their village on tuned motocross bikes and make life difficult for all the girls. But when Mati meets the independent-minded Carla, one of the victims of their baiting, she sees who she could really be: alive and open, and very different from her competitive, demonstratively cool friends. To complicate things further, Mati’s best friend Sebastian, the leader of the pack, falls in love with her and wants her to change from buddy to lover. Mati runs the risk of losing her place with the boys. In the meantime, her parents’ world is threatening to break apart when a long-kept secret of her father's resurfaces. In the end, all the characters face the same issue: how to free themselves of the social conventions constraining them.


“As played with both armor and vulnerability by the terrific Sophie Stockinger, who appeared in Mückstein's 2013 debut Talea, Mati is a riveting central figure in a film whose exploration of queer identity and desire extends beyond the protagonist to her closeted father. Examining the fear of being different, particularly in a provincial environment, the screenplay becomes almost schematic at times. But there's a current of raw feeling here, an emotional electricity, that should connect directly to young LGBT audiences. […] The sense of a carefully imposed order that Mati steadily resists — first in her automatic rejection of her assigned gender role, and ultimately in a future that points toward more decisive agency — is conveyed in the sharp visual compositions of Michael Schindegger's crisp photography. And the urge to break out is suggested by electronic composer Bernhard Fleischmann's dynamic score, at times recalling the trippy German synth-pop of the 1970s.” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 23/02/2018

In her second feature film, director Katharina Mückstein captures the growing pains of forming one’s identity with aplomb and wit as Mati learns life’s hard lessons. […] The protagonist is joined by an affable cast of characters who are also a little stuck-in-a-rut and trying to figure out what they want out of life. […] L’Animale […] creates complicated yet warm characters and develops them well. The story of a young woman learning how to break out instead of fit in will definitely resonate with a teenage audience going through the same experience. The synth-heavy soundtrack and brisk pacing keep the narrative moving without dwelling too long on melancholy, and there are tender moments of catharsis that signal a potential light at the end of the tunnel.” Sean Gallen, The Upcoming, 19/02/2018

The film follows a well-trodden path of stories exploring self-discovery and teenage desire. It’s easy to draw comparisons with old and new depictions of desire and gender experimentation. […] But there’s much more to appreciate than borrowed tropes in L’Animale. Mückstein’s direction is ambitious and sharp, with an electrifying aesthetic from the moment the bright yellow title credits flash into focus. A great attention to detail gives the film weight through its evocative imagery. […] This precision is also felt in Mückstein’s writing, showing great care for her characters. The story cleverly develops, shifting from Mati’s isolated experimentation to a wider questioning on loneliness and desire in everyone around her. By giving time to the marriage between Mati’s parents, the story widens its reach and offers a tasteful questioning of loyalty and happiness, which doesn’t get any easier as you grow older. […] The tone never dips into melodrama, never sensationalising the bubbling emotions of Mati, her friends or her family. […] The questioning of animalistic desires and gender identity could be enough to make a convincing case for L’Animale’s integrity, but the film reaches a cathartic climax with a touch of surreal creativity. […] Using a wide range of bold influences while carving its own way, Mückstein’s latest film is invigorating and admirable.” Ella Kemp, Cinevue, 21/02/2018

“Although hardly breaking new ground, the second feature from Katharina Mückstein takes an unfussy, clear-eyed approach to gender and sexual politics. With its lens trained on a young woman who doesn’t comfortably fit into the role assigned to her by society, the film draws immediate comparisons with the work of Céline Sciamma. On the festival circuit, particularly in LGBTQ-themed events and showcases, it will likely appeal to the same audience which responded to Tomboy and Girlhood.” Wendy Ide, ScreenDaily, 19/02/2018

  • Golden Eye for Best Film – Fokus DE, AT, CH, Zurich Film Festival, 2018 (Switzerland)
  • Diagonale Prize – Best Acting Ensemble, Diagonale – Festival of Austrian Film, 2018 (Austria)
  • Golden Wolf for Best Film Award – International Feature Competition, Seoul International Women's Film Festival, 2018 (South Korea)
  • Prix Cima – Best Female Director, Cinema Jove – Valencia International Film Festival, 2018 (Spain)
  • Best Music - Bernhard Fleischmann, Austrian Film Award, 2019 (Austria)
Cast & Credits
Sophie Stockinger, Kathrin Resetarits, Dominik Warta, Julia Franz Richter, Jack Hofer, Stefan Pohl, Dominic Marcus Singer, Simon Morzé, Eva Herzig, David Oberkogler, Martina Spitzer, Lisa C. Nemec, Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Gisela Salcher
Katharina Mückstein
Michael Schindegger
Hjalti Bager-Jonathansson
Katharina Haring
Bernhard Fleischmann
NGF – Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion, La Banda Film
Arti Film

Born in Vienna in 1982, Katharina Mückstein studied philosophy and gender studies, followed by directing at the Film Academy of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna under Michael Haneke. The director, screenwriter and producer co-founded the La Banda Film production company which has produced multi-award-winning documentaries. In 2013, she was awarded the START scholarship for cinema art by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Art and Culture. Her first feature, Talea (2013), competed at several international festivals and won her an award for Best Director at the 2013 Max Ophüls Preis Film Festival.

  • 2019 – Feminism WTF (documentary)
  • 2018 – L’Animale
  • 2013 – Talea
  • 2008 – Die Vereinigung (short)