Clearly these high-calibre artists have found the space and material for their art in France. Haneke's work concerns the pessimism and fissures in contemporary social ties. Necessarily the period piece The White Ribbon concerned Germans and Germany but as a more objective investigation of the stain of history the two Parisian films provided a more suitable frame.
Thinking of Fiennes' Kiefer documentary looking forward to the decline of civilisation and then a real monument looking back on it in Herzog's Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, I was reminded of the remarkable Channel 4 documentary Life After People. This (in the UK, single-feature) documentary constructed a hypothetical future in which human existence had suddenly and entirely evaporated. Unlike the wistful, suggestive - or, at least - ruminative work of Kiefer and Herzog this programme was more a visual statement of what our understanding of natural processes would mean for the earth in our absence. Interestingly, this made as much of an impact on me as the inevitably artistic conceits with which Kiefer and Herzog present their ideas.
Clearly, pursuit of such objectivity to stiffen the integrity of their art probably accounts, in some part, for these German artists crossing a border in order to realise their goal.