“I have been working on the Riefenstahl estate for more than two years. When I began my research, I focused on unknown documents such as diaries, notes, private photos and films. They immediately aroused my curiosity and provided new insights beyond the familiar narratives. And yet there was always a sense of mistrust: Did she purposefully leave behind certain materials? Did she expect someone to make a film from the documents in her estate? Am I blocking an unbiased view with my scepticism? But how can I openly approach a protagonist who has entrenched herself behind a thicket of legends, half-truths and lies all her life?

The deeper I delved into these contradictions, the more I realised that I couldn’t let the material speak for itself. Unlike my earlier films, it would need the voice of an author to classify the material and relate it to what is not preserved in the estate. At what moments do I believe her? What other material from further research needs to be consulted? What do her legends stand for, what does she need them for, what does she use them for? And where do they point beyond themselves?

After the war, her denial of any co-responsibility for the Nazi crimes was representative of many in the country. Letters, recorded telephone calls and notes from her tell of how, from the mid-1970s onwards, she became a projection figure for a hitherto silent minority who had had enough of the “dictate of guilt” and demanded that a line finally be drawn under the Nazi past.

In view of such key scenes of denial and repression, it is easy to pass a final moral judgement on Riefenstahl. But this does not eliminate the need to deal with her. Her imagery is too present, in pop flirting with “horror” as well as in the iconography of the New Right. And then, in recent months, in the new stagings of imperial greatness in Moscow, China and elsewhere.

Today, as then, these visual worlds are about triumphing – over doubt, ambivalence, supposed weakness, the imperfect. A film about Riefenstahl has thus taken on an unexpected urgency for me.”

Andres Veiel

Director: Andres Veiel
Writer: Andres Veiel
Editors: Stephan Krumbiegel, Alfredo Castro, Olaf Voigtländer
Production Manager: Markus Rogenhagen
Ass. Producer: Uli Stein, Sylvia Nagel
Sandra Maischberger
Production: Vincent Productions

In coproduction with

With support from
Film- und Medienstiftung NRW,
Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg,

majesticBETA Cinema, Autentic