The Zarah Leander Files

Zarah Leander was the Third Reich’s greatest film star. Admired by the Nazis she became the best-paid film diva ever signed by the UFA. Until today Zarah Leander is intrinsically tied to our collective memory. At the peak of her career in early 1943, Zarah Leander suddenly leaves her mansion in Berlin and returns to her home country Sweden. Around the same time, rumours are starting to spread which will ultimately determine the myth of Zarah Leander: a Nazi diva, a non-political actress or a soviet spy. THE ZARAH LEANDER FILES immerses into the life of the Swedish film diva and asks who is is really behind the mysterious look, the frivolous songs and pompous gestures? Who was Zarah Leander really?

News

  • 10/2013 - "The Zarah Leander Files" online until Wednesday

    Nazi-Diva, artist or Soviet spy? Watch the film online on Arte and find it out – until Wednesday evening.

    Nazi-Diva, artist or Soviet spy? Watch the film online on Arte and find it out - until Wednesday evening.

    "The Zarah Leander Files" on Arte online (German)
    "The Zarah Leander Files" on Arte online (French)


  • 10/2013 - "The Zarah Leander Files" on ARTE tonight

    We subscribe to NEUES DEUTSCHLAND’s opinion on today’s TV program tip: “The terrific documentary »The Zarah Leander Files«, where the Nazi-Star [...]

    We subscribe to NEUES DEUTSCHLAND's opinion on today's TV program tip: "The terrific documentary »The Zarah Leander Files«, where the Nazi-Star is dissected in the style of Japanese Anime on Wednesday at 10.20 pm." Watch the second part of our series "The Culture Files" at 10.20 pm on ARTE tonight.

    Link to NEUES DEUTSCHLAND's article (German)


  • 07/2014 - „The Zarah Leander Files“ now also on ARD!

    After its premiere in October 2013 on ARTE, another oppurtunity to watch „The Zarah Leander Files“ on TV is coming [...]

    After its premiere in October 2013 on ARTE, another oppurtunity to watch „The Zarah Leander Files“ on TV is coming up next Monday: On July 28th at 11:20pm, it will also be screened on ARD for the first time. "The Zarah Leander Files" is part of Christian Beetz' TV format "The Culture Files", which brings high culture to TV screens in an innovative way that also appeals to a younger audience: With the aid of elaborate animations in Graphic Novel style, the modern culture-crime movie follows up the rumors that shape the myth of Zarah Leander, the great film star of the Third Reich, up until today.


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The Zarah Leander Files

Zarah Leander – she was the Third Reich’s greatest film star and best-paid film diva ever signed by the UFA. In just six years, from 1937 to 1942, in she starred in 10 films produced in Nazi-Germany. Her extraordinary, deep voice – the trademark of Zarah Leander – constantly confused men and women alike. Her LPs were sold a million fold and until today, Zarah Leander’s songs belong to Germany’s musical DNA.

At the peak of her career in early 1943, Zarah Leander suddenly leaves her mansion in Berlin and returns to her home country Sweden. She leaves behind millions of devoted fans but never explains the reasons for her unexpected departure. Around the same time, rumours are starting to spread which will ultimately determine the myth of Zarah Leander: a Nazi diva, a non-political actress or a soviet spy.

Could you be a political idiot in the 20th century? I guess she just decided to play that convenient role.“ Jutta Jacobi

THE ZARAH LEANDER FILES immerses into the life of the Swedish film diva and reveals the story of a woman who enjoyed the proximity to power and believed she could toy with the mightiest men of the time. But what is really behind her mysterious look, her frivolous songs and her pompous gestures? What do the documents of the Swedish secret services reveal? What do Zarah Leander’s contradictory stories and her silence tell us?

„Sometimes I think Zarah Leander wanted to show a picture of herself that she completely invented.“ Richard Rosengren

Zarah Leander-experts, like the biographer Jutta Jacobi, the film scholar Georg Seeßlen, the Swedish theatre and screenplay writer Richard Rosengren and the professor for gender studies Tina Rosenberg, look beyond the cliché of the Nazi-Diva. Exploring her biography and the history of her reception, including all rumours about espionage, they create a complex and contradictory image of Zarah Leander that goes beyond the scope of the usual picture of the „Nazi-Diva“. What is part of the myth? What did really happen? And even toady, the myth is continuously changing: the gay scene adores the ex-prima donna and celebrates her as a queer diva, a diva whose career ended by performing at booze cruises. But one thing never changes: the exceptional way Zarah Leander polarises. Up to the present day, she is despised as intensively as she is loved.

„Zarah Leander is an art object. She is able to create a surface in such a superficial manner, that it hits the deepest feelings you can imagine. That works pretty well in pop art, so she could have been invented by Andy Warhol.“ Georg Seeßlen

The film THE ZARAH LEANDER FILES portraits an ambivalent woman who, till this day, remains a puzzle. Directors Torsten Striegnitz and Simone Dobmeier draw a picture of a dazzling personality in sinister times who was one thing first and foremost: a projection surface for the desires and fears of the people in the 20th century. And they raise the question: is okay to love an artist who is the icon of the Nazi-era.

Ali Soozandeh’s artful animations (“The Green Wave”) visualise the mysterious world of rumours and contradictory stories. Never seen before footage from Sweden and Germany feature Zarah Leander’s shows from the 60s and 70s.

The film THE ZARAH LEANDER FILES is one episode of the 3-part TV-series “The Culture Files” which will be broadcasted in October 2013 on ARTE. This novel TV-format tells European cultural history in the style of a crime-scene-investigation series. The vivid pace and investigative story line is designed to engage a younger audience with some of Europe´s greatest cultural icons.

Written & directed by: Torsten Striegnitz und Simone Dobmeier
Director of Photography: Axel Schneppat, Jürgen Rehberg, Kalle Dobrick
Camera and sound Assistant: Falco Seliger, Jens Mattner
Music: Andreas Bick
Animation: Ali Soozandeh
Gaffer: Martin Handrow
Grip: Hagen Raeder
Set Designer: Marc-Oliver Lau
Property Master / Setdresser: Jeremias Urban, Alexander Endrullat, Martin Junghans, Dominique Kirsch
Make-up: Christin Läßig
Sound: Oliver Stahn, Thomas Funk
Set Manager: Tom Kretschmar
Technical Supervisor: Philipp Weigold
Colour correction: Tobias Schaarschmidt
Title & Graphics: Falco Seliger
Additional research: Susanne Radelhof, Richard Rosengren
Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Susanne Radelhof
Editorial Assistant: Claire Roggan
Line Producer: Kathrin Isberner
Production Manager: Nick Pastucha (gebrüder beetz filmproduktion), Rainer Baumert (rbb)
Production Assistant: Anique Roelfsema, Rina Ringl
Production Accountant: Sandra Zentgraf
Executive Producer: Christian Beetz
Koproducer: Anders Granqvist
Commissioning Editors: Dagmar Mielke (rbb/ARTE), Jens Stubenrauch (rbb), Alexander von Sallwitz (NDR), Emelie Persson (SVT)

Koproduktion

arte rbb

Förderer

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  • The Zarah Leander Files

    svt - Sveriges Television
    15 August 2013 at 8:00 pm

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    Felleshus - Berlin, Germany
    19 October 2013 at 7:00 pm

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    Arte
    23 October 2013 at 10:20 pm

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    05 November 2013 at 3:15 am

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    ARD
    28 July 2014 at 11:20 pm

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    28 July 2014 at 11:20 pm

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    01 August 2014 at 9:00 pm

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    03 August 2014 at 12:20 am

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    03 August 2014 at 6:30 pm

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    SVT
    15 August 2014 at 8:00 pm

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    03 March 2015 at 8:15 pm

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    06 March 2015 at 11:15 pm

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    06 March 2015 at 11:15 pm

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    08 March 2015 at 4:55 pm

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    09 March 2015 at 12:50 pm

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    11 March 2015 at 1:35 am

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    11 March 2015 at 6:10 am

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    15 March 2015 at 10:30 am

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    07 April 2015 at 11:35 am

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    12 April 2015 at 8:10 am

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    02 May 2015 at 10:45 pm

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    06 May 2015 at 5:25 pm

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    30 May 2015 at 9:40 pm

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    02 June 2015 at 3:55 am

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    24 August 2015 at 3:45 pm

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    25 August 2015 at 8:30 am

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    24 September 2015 at 4:10 pm

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    25 September 2015 at 6:15 am

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    25 September 2015 at 10:40 am

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    26 September 2015 at 2:15 pm

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    14 November 2015 at 11:30 am

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    10 December 2015 at 11:00 pm

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    11 December 2015 at 1:40 pm

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    13 December 2015 at 4:25 am

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    13 December 2015 at 7:05 am

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    14 February 2016 at 10:30 am

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    19 February 2016 at 9:45 pm

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    20 February 2016 at 2:15 am

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    20 February 2016 at 8:45 am

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    20 February 2016 at 6:45 pm

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    08 March 2016 at 9:00 pm

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    08 April 2016 at 5:40 am

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    08 April 2016 at 10:25 am

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    02 July 2016 at 12:40 am

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    29 July 2016 at 9:50 pm

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    18 September 2016 at 8:05 am

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    25 September 2016 at 9:40 am

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    24 December 2016 at 12:50 am

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    26 December 2016 at 5:30 am

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    09 May 2017 at 8:15 pm

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    10 May 2017 at 7:30 am

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    10 May 2017 at 6:30 pm

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    13 May 2017 at 11:10 pm

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    14 May 2017 at 1:50 pm

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    12 June 2017 at 7:00 am

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    01 September 2017 at 2:00 pm