New York, December 2, 1999
Foster to star in film about one of the
world's most controversial
Leni Riefenstahl Project" will
follow the life and times of a woman
widely considered to be both a brilliant
film maker and a Nazi propagandist.
Riefenstahl was an intimate of the Nazi
high command and directed the notorious
1934 pro-Hitler documentary
"She was perhaps one of the greatest
film makers of all time, and yet her name
will forever be linked to the horror of
Nazi Germany," Foster told
announcing the project. "There is no other
woman in the 20th century who has been so
admired and vilified simultaneously."
Riefenstahl, now 97, won acclaim as an
actress, director and photographer in the
1920s and 1930s. She starred in and
co-directed several beautifully shot
German "mountain" films set in the Alps,
and also directed
a film about the 1936 Berlin Olympic
Games, considered by many experts to be
the greatest sports documentary of all
time. Riefenstahl's work on "Olympia"
earned her an appearance on
But her ties with Adolf Hitler and
propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels
led her to film "Triumph of the Will," a
mesmerizing documentation of a Nazi rally.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest,
and most sinister, propaganda films ever
made, the movie also sealed Riefenstahl's
reputation as a Nazi sympathizer -- a
contention she has steadfastly denied.
Nevertheless, Riefenstahl was interned
in Allied prison camps for three years at
the end of World War II, and even though
she was later cleared of any wrongdoing by
denazification courts, Riefenstahl never
worked in film again.
In the last several decades,
Riefenstahl has had a revival of sorts.
She has published several well-received
books of photography about Sudanese
tribesmen and underwater life. And she was
the subject of a critically acclaimed 1993
documentary, "The Wonderful, Horrible Life
of Leni Riefenstahl."
In addition to the Foster project,
Germany's Odeon Films is developing a
project based on Riefenstahl's
autobiography "Memoiren," as well as a
biography from Ernst Junger,
The title of the Foster project is only
tentative. The film will be produced by
Egg Pictures, Foster's production company,
and will be written by Oscar-nominated
(for "Philadelphia") Ron Nyswaner.
Although Foster's company has what is
known as a "first look" deal with
Paramount (the studio has right of first
refusal), U.S. distribution rights to the
film are still unclear.
a Riefenstahl biopic: Why