Toronto: 'Frantz,' 'Toni Erdmann' Stars New Faces of German Film Campaign (Exclusive)
Six actresses, including Paula Beer, Sandra Huller and Julia Jentsch, will be the focus of a yearlong initiative promoting German cinema internationally.
The back-to-nature anarchist of Sundance breakout Wild, the pantsuited star of Cannes hit Toni Erdmann, and the actress Francois Ozon has dubbed 'the next Romy Schneider' will be the faces, literally, of a new global campaign promoting German cinema.
Taking a page from L'Oreal's playbook, state promotion body German Films has picked six leading actresses to represent the new wave of German cinema in a worldwide promotion campaign.
Lilith Stangenberg, star of Nicole Krebitz's Wild, Toni Erdmann lead Sandra Huller, and Paula Beer, who on Saturday won the Best Young Actress award in Venice for Ozon-directed feature Frantz, will be the focus of the new campaign, alongside Julia Jentsch, star of Berlin competition title 24 Weeks, Liv Lisa Fries, the lead in Tom Tykwer’s upcoming series Babylon Berlin, and Saskia Rosendahl, whose next role is in Work Without Author, the upcoming feature from The Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
“German filmmakers working in every genre are blessed to be able to draw from a deep pool of remarkably talented individuals -- the work of these six actresses, which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated, embodies much of what is fascinating, enjoyable and enriching about new German cinema today," said Jane Schoettle, an international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival, responsible for German language cinema.
German Films chairman Peter Herrmann said the actresses were picked to represent a new wave in German cinema that is “exciting, modern, bold, dramatic, funny, unexpected and very multifaceted.”
The campaign, officially called Face to Face With German Films, will launch at the London Film Festival in October. It will run throughout the year, with the actresses taking part in events and festivals around the world.
One of the best-known faces in the group, Jentsch has been a name on the international arthouse scene since her performances as a would-be anarchist in The Edukators in 2004, alongside Daniel Bruhl, and her star-making performance in the Oscar-nominated Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which won her a best actress Silver Bear in Berlin in 2005 playing the historic Nazi resistance fighter.
Jentsch was back in the Berlin spotlight this year with Anne Zohra Berrached's controversial drama 24 Weeks, in which Jentsch plays an expectant mother under pressure to abort her child after it is discovered the baby will be born with Down syndrome and a serious heart defect.
Her fearless performance in Nicolette Krebitz's Wild —as a woman who breaks all connection with society to pursue a deep and disturbing connection to a wolf—wowed critics when the film premiered at Sundance this year. “Hollywood actors who imagine they’re bold when they step out of their comfort zones would be humbled and chastened by what they see here,” raved The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy.
No less an authority than French auteur Francois Ozon has anointed Paula Beer as “the next Romy Schneider,” casting the 21-year-old actress, who dazzled in Chris Kraus' Poll (2010) and Andreas Prochaska's Alpine Western The Dark Valley (2014), as the female lead in his black-and-white period drama Frantz, which premiered in Venice and Toronto this month. The Venice jury appeared to agree, handing Beer this year's Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actress.
She won Berlin's Silver Bear for her debut film, in which she played a devout Catholic girl possessed —perhaps by demons, more likely by epilepsy and a repressive upbringing—in Hans-Christian Schmid's Requiem in 2006, a role that also earned Sandra Huller her first German Film Award, for best actress. She'd pick up a second in the best-supporting category playing an uptight and self-conscious documentarian in Frauke Finsterwalder's dark comedy Finsterworld.
A third may be on its way this year for her lead role in Toni Erdmann as a corporate executive whose prankster father decides to disrupt her life and career path. Maren Ade's film, one the best reviewed out of Cannes, is Germany's pick for the 2017 foreign-language Oscars and will bow in the U.S. via Sony Pictures Classics on Christmas Day.
As the lead in Cate Shortland's Lore, Saskia Rosendahl played a child of true Nazi believers forced to fend for herself, and her younger siblings, in the chaos at the end of WWII. The performance won her best actress honors from the Australian Film Institute and the Australian Film Critics Association. Her next big role will be in Work Without Author, the hotly anticipated new period drama from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who, after winning the Oscar with The Lives of Others, returns to Germany for his latest film.
Liv Lisa Fries
Arguably the freshest face in the group, Liv Lisa Fries is best known in Germany for her TV work and her award-winning performance in Frederik Steiner's Zurich (2013) as a cystic fibrosis patient seeking assisted suicide. Fries better be ready for her close-up, though, because she's about to be the focus of attention as the female lead in Babylon Berlin, the big-budget German TV series being co-directed by Tom Tykwer (Cloud Atlas), which rolls out next year across pay-TV giant Sky Europe and German public broadcaster ARD.