Volker Schlöndorff

Active - 1966 - 2019  |   Born - Mar 31, 1939 in Wiesbaden, Hessen, Deutschland  |   Genres - Drama

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Acclaimed German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff was educated at Paris' Lycee Henry IV and the Sorbonne; he majored in political science and economics. While still in Paris, Schlöndorff studied directing at the highly regarded IDHEC film school. He worked in France for four years as an assistant director, then made his directorial bow with 1966's Young Torless. Set in an exclusive boys school, the film was designed as a parable concerning the unprotested rise of Nazism; it won the critics prize at the Cannes Festival, and its box office success helped open career doors for many other "New German Cinema" directors, among them Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders. Schlöndorff formed a partnership in the late '60s with a consortium of German TV stations which underwrote many of his subsequent projects. One of the more successful of these projects was The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975), the scorching tale of a young woman driven to drastic measures as the result of the wrongful scrutiny and societal condemnation leveled at her after her one-night stand with a mysterious man.

In 1979, Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum, an adaptation of Gunter Grass' allegorical tale of a young boy who refuses to grow up mentally or physically as a reaction to the horrors of war, won a number of honors, including the Golden Palm at Cannes and the Best Foreign Film Oscar. The director made his American debut with the 1985 televised adaptation of Death of a Salesman, which starred Dustin Hoffman. 1990's The Handmaid's Tale, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's terrifying future dystopia, provided one of Schlöndorff's greatest international successes. His subsequent work throughout the '90s was sporadic, with 1998's Palmetto earning widespread critical lambast.

Schlöndorff has often worked in collaboration with his ex-wife, actress/writer/director Margarethe Von Trotta, on such films as The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum.

Movie Highlights

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  • Knüpfte während seines Studiums in Paris enge Kontakte zu den Regisseuren der "nouvelle vague", vor allem zu Louis Malle, bei dem er Regieassistent war.
  • Gründete 1969 zusammen mit Peter Fleischmann die Hallelujah Film GmbH und 1974 zusammen mit Reinhard Hauff und Eberhard Junkersdorf die Produktionsfirma Bioskop-Film.
  • Wegen seines politischen Engagements, das auch in seinen Filmen (z.B. Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum) zum Ausdruck kommt, wurde er als "Sympathisant" an den Pranger gestellt.
  • Nach mehreren Jahren in den Vereinigten Staaten kehrte Schlöndorff nach der Wende nach Deutschland zurück und widmete sich dem Neuaufbau der Ufa- und Defa-Studios in Babelsberg, wo er von 1992-1997 Geschäftsführer war.
  • Seit 2001 ist Schlöndorff Vorsitzender des Vereins Europäisches Filmzentrum Babelsberg.
  • Lehrt seit 2001 als Professor für Film und Literatur an der European Graduate School in Saas-Fee.
  • 2008 erschien seine Autobiografie Licht, Schatten und Bewegung.
  • Inszenierte 2009 Leo Tolstois letztes Theaterstück Und ein Licht leuchtet in der Finsternis.