In 2010, the festival’s 60th anniversary, the Berlinale was dedicating its Homage to two film artists who have decisively shaped post-war German cinema in different ways.
“Hanna Schygulla and Wolfgang Kohlhaase both stand for renewal and departure – in West and East Germany. Hanna Schygulla’s name is inseparably connected with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films. Wolfgang Kohlhaase adopted a course that was new for the DEFA in his first collaborations with director Gerhard Klein,” commented Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick on the artists being honoured.
On the occasion of the Homage, on the 17th and 18th of February respectively, Wolfgang Kohlhaase and Hanna Schygulla were awarded Honorary Golden Bears for their lifetime achievements. A programme of five works each had been put together from their œuvres to accompany the Homage.
Hanna Schygulla began performing at the Munich Action Theatre through Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1967. She went on to star in 20 of his films between 1969 and 1980. Within the scope of the Homage, a rare early work, Rio das Mortes (1970/71) will be screened: with bizarre humour, it captures the utopian spirit and attitude towards life in the 1970s. Fassbinder’s late works – such as Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1978/79), for which Schygulla received the Silver Bear in 1979, and Lili Marleen (1980/81) – were the starting point for Schygulla’s reputation as the “new Dietrich”, especially in the USA. She was considered Fassbinder’s muse and through him she became an icon of New German Cinema, and the Schygulla for moviegoers around the world. She worked with many renowned German directors, including Reinhard Hauff, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, and Wim Wenders. After Fassbinder’s untimely death, she starred in films by some of the world’s most acclaimed directors, such as Jean-Luc Godard, Carlos Saura, Ettore Scola, and Andrzej Wajda. In 1983, for her role as Eugenia in Marco Ferreri’s Storia di Piera (The Story of Piera, 1982/83), she won the award for the best actress in Cannes. After a longer break, Schygulla, who has resided in Paris since 1981, is performing in German films again – most recently in Fatih Akin’s Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven, 2006/07). Last not least, her versatility has also been visible in her theatre projects and directorial work: her Traumprotokolle (1976/2005) have been included in the collection of the MoMA and will be part of a programme with Hanna Schygulla’s video works to be presented in Berlin.
Born in Berlin, 78-year-old screenwriter and director Wolfgang Kohlhaase strongly influenced filmmaking at the DEFA. He is one of the East German film artists who continued to be successful in the business after the fall of the Wall. For years, Kohlhaase collaborated closely with Gerhard Klein, Konrad Wolf, and Frank Beyer. Later he wrote for directors, such as Bernhard Wicki and Volker Schlöndorff; and most recently, for Andreas Dresen. His first box office hits were with Gerhard Klein and their famous "Berlin films". Works like Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin – Schoenhauser Corner, Gerhard Klein, 1956/57) express an enthusiasm for Neorealism and a sense of social reality. They are among the first authentic DEFA films to show everyday life in East Germany and brought a new tone to GDR cinemas. Ever since, life in the divided and later reunited city of Berlin has been a leitmotif of Kohlhaase’s work, pervading also one of his latest works, Sommer vorm Balkon (Summer in Berlin, Andreas Dresen, 2004/05). A second central theme, Kohlhaase’s preoccupation with German fascism and its consequences, led to his teaming up with Konrad Wolf, with whom he made four films. On Wolf’s last film, Solo Sunny (1978–80), which won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 1980, author Kohlhaase worked as co-director for the first time. Another Kohlhaase film, Der Aufenthalt (The Turning Point, Frank Beyer, 1982/83) was denied the chance to participate in the Berlinale: after objections from the Polish government, the GDR withdrew the film, which tells the story of a German soldier in a Polish prison at the end of the war.
“In Wolfgang Kohlhaase we have the rare case of a writer who is named in the same breath as the director. The sense of authenticity in both his characters and stories, his laconic, very economical language, and his fine irony have been a stroke of luck for German cinema. With Hanna Schygulla we are honouring an actress who, after being featured as anti-star by Fassbinder in his early films, became – with her expressive sensuality and stirring voice – one of Europe’s most exciting actresses,” explained Dr. Rainer Rother, Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, which is responsible for the Homage.