Son of a German Catholic actress and a Protestant director, Michael Haneke grew up in Austria. He studied philosophy and psychology in Vienna.
He began his career as a theater director, before directing and writing made-for-tv movies at the start of the 1990's, for the German channel "Südwestrundfunk." His first big screen film was "The Seventh Continent," which was originally wiritten for television
Haneke gained international fame in 2001 with his film "The Piano Teacher," which won him the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Fesitval. The two stars of the film,Benoît Maginel and Isabelle Huppert, also won the Best Actor and Best Actress awards, respectively.
The jury for the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, headed by Isabelle Huppert, awarded Haneke the Palme d'or prize for "The White Ribbon," his first black-and-white film, representing the state of small German village at the eve of World War I.
The jury for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, headed by Nanni Moretti, awarded Haneke his second Palme d'or for his film "Amour," which tells the story of an octogenarian facing an illness. The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.