A film by Nathalie Borgers
Haider was nobody’s duplicate and no one’s follower, he was an “original”. He was no doubt the most successful of the European far right populists. None other had such an appeal. No one else rose so quickly to notoriety. Many regarded him as a role model. His slogans have since been taken up by right-wing populist movements across Europe and to a certain extent by society as a whole; his style set a trend.
Yet who was the man who made Europe tremble when his party won 27% at the national elections in 1999 and entered the Austrian government? Was he a Carinthian traditionalist, a Nazi, a Christian Democrat in disguise, a metrosexual yuppie? The ever new faces of Jörg Haider fascinated and irritated many. None of his electors could say for sure what exactly they were voting for: an idea, a victim myth, an ideology, or just a man who liked distributing 100 Euro bills and making lots of promises.
But what was behind Haider’s smiles and promises? What kind of a man was he? What was his vision ? Did he have any, or was politics simply a way to serve his own thirst for recognition? Was he merely an Austrian phenomenon or can he be seen as the epitome of the “modern European right-wing populist”? Where does the “collective hysteria” around his person come from? Was he a truly gifted politician? Or were his colleagues and admirers only blinded by his acting talent? What does their “obsession” reveal about the people or the country or about our times? And more importantly, what remains from Haider's politics? These are the questions that guide director Nathalie Borgers as she sets out to travel through “Haiderland”.
CATCHING HAIDER is a subjective voyage in Haider’s political, geographical, familial, and emotional world. A road movie behind the scenes, travelling the hidden slopes of Carinthia to meet his former supporters and colleagues, exploring the landscape that formed him and the folks traditions he nurtured, seeking to glimpse the real person behind Haider's contradictory personas, his goals, and his strategies, and finally identifying the illusionary and deceptive methods of populist politics which have since spread all over Europe.