German director and occasional actor who emerged in the late 1960s and 70s as part of the New German Cinema movement along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlondorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Margarethe von Trotta and others. They set out to revitalize a moribund German film culture which had been completely devastated as a consequence of the rise of Nazism and WWII.
One of Hauff's earliest efforts was directing Fassbinder as an actor in a historical feature, "Matthias Kneissl" (1970). Kneissl was a marginal figure and bringing such characters centerstage in his films would be a pattern for future work. Hauff then directed "The Brutalization of Franz Blum/Die Verrohung des Franz Blum" (1974), an uneven homage to American prison movies of the 1930s and 40s that didn't quite hit the mark. His next feature, which he also produced, "Fuses/Zuendschnuere" (1975), was originally made for German television. It was a successful depiction of the German war years as viewed by children on the homefront. Hauff wrote the screenplay and directed the well-received drama "The Main Actor/Der Hauptdarsteller" (1977), which is the story of a 15-year-old amateur who is discovered by a passing filmmaker and given a starring role in a fiction film. When filming is completed, the boy finds it difficult to return to his old life. The film was considered something of a landmark for its approach and Hauff was hailed as a major force in German Cinema.
He followed with the fascinating but disturbing drama "Knife in the Head" (1978) which featured Bruno Ganz as a biogeneticist who is paralyzed after being shot in a police raid, and then manipulated by both the police and political radicals. The well-received thriller was widely released and helped established Hauff internationally.
"Stammhein" (1984) proved to be Hauff's "JFK" because of the sensitive national issues it tackled and the controversy it ignited. Working with a script by Stefan Aust and the actual court transcripts, Hauff presented the trial without prejudice, leaving it up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions from the proceedings.
Next, Hauff tackled "Line 1/Linie 1" (1987) based on a successful German stage musical set on former West Berlin's main train line. The transfer to the big screen was a disappointment; the film was flat and failed to capture the energy that made the musical such a vibrant statement on Berlin's counterculture. Hauff faired better with "Blue Eyes/Blauaugig" (1989) which dealt with the Argentinean political problems of the 1970s. Filmed on location in Buenos Aires entirely in Spanish, the feature worked best as a suspense thriller with a strong performance from German actor Gotz George.