In 1980, two biographies cross paths in a Paris cinema: those of young cinema-goer Alexander Horwath and the actor Henry Fonda. Horwath recognised early on that the popular view of Fonda as a “typical American” and the “conscience of the USA” in his acting roles doesn’t paint the full picture. It is the more convoluted paths of Fonda’s biography and how he played roles and embodied attitudes extending beyond individual characters that truly interest Horwath. Thrillingly edited with Michael Palm, his essay film follows them across the history of film into an imaginary republic of places, times, characters: “The United States of Fonda”. Fonda becomes the link between an old and a new America, the thoughtful face of the alleged transition from the law of the jungle to civilisation as well as a critic of an American self-image that only serves itself. Paradoxically, it’s the magic of cinema invoked in the film that contributes to this (self-)disenchantment of America via its own specific techniques and the help of one of its greatest magicians. And in doing so creates a wonderfully complex cinematic memorial to both the USA and storyteller and actor Fonda – the president that never was.
by Alexander Horwath Austria / Germany 2024 English, German, Subtitles: English, German 184' World premiere | Debut film | Documentary form


DirectorAlexander Horwath
ScreenplayAlexander Horwath
CinematographyMichael Palm
EditingMichael Palm
SoundMichael Palm
ResearchRegina Schlagnitweit
Artistic AdviserRegina Schlagnitweit
Production ManagersMirjam Saleh, Nalan Kahriman
ProducersRalph Wieser, Irene Höfer, Andreas Schroth

Produced by

Mischief Films

Wien, Austria

Medea Film Factory

Berlin, Germany

Alexander Horwath

Born in Vienna in 1964, author, curator and film historian. He was director of the Viennale (1992–97) and the Austrian Film Museum (2002–17) as well as curator of the documenta 12 film programme (2007). He has published numerous books as an author and editor, including on Josef von Sternberg, Ruth Beckermann, Austrian avant-garde film, and US cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. Henry Fonda for President (2024) is his first film.


2024 Henry Fonda for President; documentary

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024


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