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In Sundance Satire ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ the Super-Rich Continue to Get Away With Murder: ‘There Is More Than One Jeffrey Epstein Out There’

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Veni, vidi, vici: “I came, I saw, I conquered,” reportedly said Julius Caesar after an especially swift victory. Now, his words echo in Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann’s satire about a family so powerful it can get away with murder. Literally.

“Imagine you are above the law. You can do anything. It’s frustrating, because sometimes you want the world to wake up and yet nothing happens. It’s really funny and really sad,” Hoesl tells Variety.

“These people want to be stopped. They leave all these traces, so why does no one speak up? There is more than one Jeffrey Epstein out there.”

Premiering at Sundance and Rotterdam – and produced by Ulrich Seidl for Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion, with Magnify handling sales – “Veni Vidi Vici” takes a closer look at the Maynard clan where “family is everything,” but human life means nothing.

“Our main character always wins. It’s always like that and it will be like that for his children. We wanted to tell this story from the perspective of Maynard’s teenage daughter, because that might be our future. They will be in power, owning everything we care about, unless we do something about it,” points out Niemann, while Hoels adds: “There was this doc ‘Born Rich’ [directed by Jamie Johnson] and Ivanka Trump was one of his interviewees. She was well-spoken and rational, but we have seen her ‘progress’ since then. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but we can’t blame them if we don’t change the rules.”

Despite the lives of the ultra-rich being dissected in the likes of smash hits “Succession” and “Saltburn,” Hoesl and Niemann – also behind “Davos” – have been researching the topic for years.

“To us, it’s not ‘fashionable.’ We both have a working-class background, so it has always been an issue and the divide in the society is just getting bigger,” says Hoesl.

“Billionaires, they are like Icarus: they fly very close to the sun. Still, while we keep talking about Bezos or Musk, most of them live a quiet life.”

His co-director chimes in: “We are intrigued by those who don’t want to show off: they just want to gain more power. We really know this world and it doesn’t stop being interesting. There have been many films about it in recent years – think about ‘Joker’ or ‘Parasite’ – but most of the time, it’s a call to ‘kill the rich.’ In our film, the rich will kill you.”

Sometimes, simply because they can. Turning cops into accomplices and journalists into faithful butlers.

“Amon Maynard [played by Laurence Rupp] delivers the answer himself. He says: ‘I am not a yoga person’,” notes Hoesl.

Niemann observes: “It’s really a sport for him. There is nothing to decipher here: it all happens in broad daylight. But it was important not to make [these scenes] cruel, because billionaires are not stabbing us with their knives; they are not talking to us, there is no eye contact. But someone still loses their job and their whole existence.”

“Veni Vidi Vici”
Courtesy of Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion

Despite its bouts of violence, “Veni Vidi Vici” is not devoid of humor, with many scenes actually inspired by real life.

“Reality can be so close to satire,” says Hoesl.

“In Austria, our ex-chancellor is now a lobbyist who works for questionable billionaires like Peter Thiel. Before, he was representing ‘the people of Austria.’ Now, he is trying to rip us off. It hurts to see it and we wanted to make a film that would be entertaining and irritating. It should trigger a reaction from the audience, because it’s on us: we are letting them get away with it.”

“Daniel is always on the brink of being a bit too dark for other people’s taste,” laughs Niemann.

“Maybe humor is the funniest when it’s not safe? And if you can say one thing about our film is that it’s not safe.”