TV documentary

The Alphabet of Fear

Editor | 2nd Camera


The Rumanian-German poet Herta Müller (1953) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009. Müller’s parents were German speaking Rumanians. Her father served in the German SS during World War ii, and her mother was imprisoned in a Sovjet working camp after the war. Her own studies and adult life were overshadowed by the repression of the Ceausescu regime and the continuous harassment of the Securitate. The fears and traumas resulting from those experiences largely continue to dominate her life

When Herta Müller is not working on a novel, she composes so-called ‘collage poems’. The bewilderment and fear that characterize her prose also pervade her poetry. The Alphabet of Fear is a quest for the roots of her work, the mortal fear and the thirst for life that pervade all her writings. It is a film about living in fear, with literature as a sole weapon.

Festivals, awards & screenings

2018 Goethe Institut, Athens, Greece
2017 Microcine Cineteca Nacional, Santiago, Chili
2017 Archivo Museo, Parma, Italy
2017 CineAgenzia, Bologna, Italy
2017 Cinematheque KOFA, Seoul, South-Korea
2016 Master of Art Film Festival, Bulgaria (winner Best Film)
2016 Festival Tolerancije, Zagreb, Croatia
2016 Cinema Release, Germany
2015 Goethe Institut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2015 Nederlands Film Festival, Netherlands (nominated Golden Calf)
2015 Poetry International, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2015 TV broadcast, Nationwide, The Netherlands 


"Partly thanks to the intelligent editing, in which archival footage, re-enacted situations and interviews with villagers from Muller' Romanian birth village merge smoothly, we gain insight into her reconstructed fears, skilfully dissected and made accessible. The interaction between language and image is intimate and poetic, a monument to Müller and her courageous and vulnerable life."
- Golden Calf, jury report