Hon.-Prof. Volker Schlöndorff
Born in Wiesbaden in 1939, Volker Schlöndorff is one of the most important and internationally successful German directors. He has a penchant for bringing German and international literary classics to the screen and, in particular, for works that have been considered "unfilmable". He has also made a name for himself with sociocritical films.
Volker Schlöndorff spent his childhood days in Schlangenbad and most of his youth in Paris, where he completed his schooling, studied Political Science, and eventually laid the foundation for his film career as an assistant director to Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Pierre Melville. In 1965, Schlöndorff directed his first feature film Young Törless, starring Mathieu Carrière. Adapted from Robert Musil's novel, the film won several awards and is considered the first international success for the emerging New German Cinema movement. Numerous films followed, including the vicious genre mix A Degree of Murder (1967), the Western-inspired Man on horseback (1969), The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach (1970), an excursion into the Heimatfilm genre, and the emancipation story A Free Woman (1972).
With The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975), Schlöndorff had his box-office breakthrough in Germany. The adaptation of Heinrich Böll's novel was co-directed by Margarethe von Trotta, whom Schlöndorff was married to until 1991.
With the film version of Günter Grass's The Tin Drum (1979), Schlöndorff achieved his biggest success to date. Honored with a Palm d'Or in Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the film opened up doors to the international arena for Schlöndorff. German-American productions with an international cast followed, such as Death of a Salesman (1985) with Dustin Hoffman, the adaptation of Max Frisch's HOMO FABER (1991) with Sam Shepard, THE OGRE (1996) with John Malkovich, and Palmetto (1998) with Woody Harrelson.
For THE LEGEND OF RITA (2000), a drama about a fugitive terrorist, Schlöndorff was awarded the "Blauer Engel" European Peace Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. THE NINTH DAY (2004) earned him a "Die Brücke" German Film Award for Peace. In 2005, Schlöndorff received an Honorary Award at the Bavarian Film Awards for his lifetime achievement. DIPLOMACY (2014) won a César Award for Best Adaptation.
Apart from being a film director, Schlöndorff is also an ardent director of operas and stage plays. After working together with Hans Werner Henze on some of his films, he decided to stage operas such as Henze's "We Come to the River", Leos Janacek's "Katja Kabanova" and "From the House of the Dead" as well as "La Bohème" and "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk".
Moreover, Volker Schlöndorff supported the preservation of Studio Babelsberg to prevent its closure and conserve a historical part of cinema history. From 1992 to 1997, he served as the studio's managing director. Since 2001, he has been chairman of the European Film Center Association in Babelsberg. He currently teaches film at Andrzej Wajda's film school in Warsaw, the University of Mexico, and Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. Besides, he is a supporter of the Kwetu Film Institute in Rwanda, Africa.
"The best thing I've probably ever done was to write my memoirs 'Light, Shadow and Movement'. Unfortunately, I couldn't write them before I had lived and made the films ..."