‘Riefenstahl,’ Documentary About Nazi Propagandist, Added to Beta Cinema’s Cannes Slate (EXCLUSIVE)


Beta Cinema has added Andres Veiel‘s upcoming documentary film “Riefenstahl,” about controversial filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, to its Cannes lineup.

The film is an exploration of Riefenstahl’s legacy, delving deep into her complex relationship with the Nazi regime. With unprecedented access to Riefenstahl’s 700-box personal archive, the documentary navigates between her sanitized narrative and incriminating evidence regarding her knowledge of the regime’s atrocities.

Veiel is a multi-award-winning writer and director of both narrative feature films and documentaries. His documentary about the aftermath of the RAF campaign of terror, “Black Box Germany,” was honored with the German Film Award and the European Film Award in 2002. In 2011, he presented the feature film “If Not Us, Who?” in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, winning the Alfred Bauer Award. The film was also nominated for five German Film Awards and brought Sevilla’s best actor award to August Diehl for his leading performance.

Veiel returned to the Berlinale in 2018 with his documentary “Beuys,” about the world-famous sculptor and performance artist. The film was sold to more than 20 territories worldwide and its editing was honored with both the German Film Award in Gold and a Bavarian Film Award.

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“Now as then Riefenstahl’s visual worlds are about triumph. Triumph over doubt, ambivalence, supposed weakness and the imperfect. Thus, looking at the world today, a film about Riefenstahl became an urgent necessity for me,” Veiel said in a statement. “Riefenstahl’s extensive legacy, reinterpreted in the light of her private estate, offered the opportunity for a new take on the timeless attraction of imperial greatness and the need for the staging of the trained, perfect and victorious ones, as we see them on the rise today again.”

“Riefenstahl” is produced by Sandra Maischberger for Vincent Productions. The executive producer is Enzo Maaß. It is a co-production with WDR, NDR, BR, SWR and rbb.

The production is supported by FFA, BKM, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmstiftung NRW and DFFF.

Majestic Filmverleih will release the documentary in the German-speaking territories in the fourth quarter of this year.

Maischberger hosts and produces her self-titled multi-award-winning political talk show on German public television. She interviewed Riefenstahl in 2002.

Maischberger stated, “Leni Riefenstahl’s hundred-year history of life and influence is a key to understanding the mechanisms of manipulation that we are currently encountering again. This makes the journey into the depths of her legacy more than a mere cultural-historical exercise. Deciphering her work means to unveil the original sin of film propaganda in order to be able to recognize its resurrection today.”

Riefenstahl was a celebrated dancer and actress in the 1920s. She attracted Hitler’s attention with “The Blue Light,” a film she wrote, directed, produced and starred in. Her propaganda film “Triumph of the Will,” about the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg, propelled her to become the Reich’s preeminent filmmaker. “Olympia,” about the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, became world famous.

Classified merely as a Nazi “follower” after the war, she faced no professional bans. She, however, switched to photography in the 1960s, publishing reports about Sudan’s Nuba population and undersea flora and fauna. She continued to seek the spotlight, appearing in TV shows and publishing her memoirs in 1987, in a tireless effort to rehabilitate herself as a director.

Her estate, comprising 700 boxes, ended up via detours at the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin in 2018. Veiel’s documentary is based on the preserved films, manuscripts, letters, files, documents and voice recordings contained in those boxes.

This post was originally published on Variety

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