Leni Riefenstahl2022-09-05T21:55:57+02:00


a feature documentary film by Andres Veiel

“For more than two years I have been devoting myself to Riefenstahl’s estate. When I began my research, I focused on unknown documents such as diaries, notes, private photos and films. They immediately piqued my curiosity and allowed new insights beyond the known narratives. And yet there always remained some suspicion: Did she leave behind certain material on purpose? Did she suspect that someone would make a film out of the documents from her estate? Is my scepticism blocking an unbiased viewpoint? But how can I openly approach a protagonist who throughout her life has entrenched herself behind a thicket of legends, half-truths and lies?

The deeper I delved into these contradictions, the clearer it became that I could not let the material speak for itself. Unlike my earlier films, here an author’s voice was required to categorise the material and correlate it to that which is not part of the estate. At what moments do I believe her? What material from other 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, she stood for many people in the country by denying any shared responsibility for Nazi crimes. Letters, recorded telephone calls and notes she kept tell of how, from the mid-1970s onwards, she became an identification figure for a so far silent minority who felt that Germany had been consumed by it’s war guilt long enough and thus demanded a closing line to be drawn under the Nazi past finally.

Whilst I was doing my research, further discoveries regarding Riefenstahl became known. During her lifetime, she had denied that even one of the Sinti and Roma extras from her film “Tiefland” had died in an extermination camp. The death records of Auschwitz tell a different story. Her dubious, sometimes mercilessly exploitative attitude towards colleagues was now also publicly discussed.

A final moral judgement had been passed on Riefenstahl, but she has not ceased to be a matter of concern. Her visual worlds are still kind of omnipresent in todays pop culture’s flirting with the “horror” as well as in the iconography of the New Right.”

Andres Veiel


A feature documentary by Andres Veiel
A project by Vincent Productions GmbH

Available late 2023