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Hanna Schygulla

Hanna Schygulla
File:Hanna Schygulla Buchmesse.JPG
Hanna Schygulla, 2013
Born (1943-12-25) 25 December 1943 (age 72)
Königshütte, Silesia
(now Chorzów, Poland)
Occupation Actress, Singer
Years active 1968–present

Hanna Schygulla (born 25 December 1943) is a German actress and chanson singer. Long associated with the theater and film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, for whom Schygulla first worked in 1965, she is generally considered the most prominent German actress of the New German Cinema.

Life and career

Schygulla was born in Königshütte (present day Chorzów in Poland) to German parents Antonie (née Mzyk) and Joseph Schygulla.[1] Her father, a timber merchant by profession, was then drafted as an infantryman in the German Army and was captured by American forces in Italy, subsequently being held as a prisoner of war until 1948. In 1945, Schygulla, and her mother, arrived as refugees in Munich following the expulsion of the majority German population of Königshütte by Communist Poland.[1] Much later, in the 1960s, Schygulla studied Romance languages and German studies, while taking acting lessons in Munich during her spare time.

Acting eventually became her focus, and she became particularly known for her film work with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. During the making of Effi Briest (1974), an adaptation of a German novel by Theodor Fontane, Fassbinder and Schygulla fell out over divergent interpretations of the character.[2] Also a problem for Schygulla was low pay, and she led a revolt against Fassbinder on this issue during the making of Effi Briest, shot in September 1972 some time before its commercial release. Fassbinder's response was typically blunt: "I can't stand the sight of your face any more. You bust my balls".[3] After this, they did not work together for several years until The Marriage of Maria Braun in 1979. The film was entered into the 29th Berlin International Film Festival, where Schygulla won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her performance.[4] In 1980, she acted in Fassbinder's miniseries adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

In 1981, Schygulla starred alongside Bruno Ganz in Volker Schlöndorff's Circle of Deceit, and one year later, with Isabelle Huppert in Jean-Luc Godard's Passion. She was also a member of the jury at the 15th Moscow International Film Festival in 1987.[5]

In the 1990s she also became known and well regarded as a chanson singer. In Juliane Lorenz's documentary film Life, Love and Celluloid (1998), on Fassbinder and related topics, Schygulla performs several songs.

She appeared in the 2000 Béla Tarr film Werckmeister Harmonies, and in 2002, in VB51, a performance by the artist Vanessa Beecroft. Five years later, she appeared in the film The Edge of Heaven, directed by Fatih Akın, to wide acclaim. In 2007, she received the Honorary Award from the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival and in 2010 she received the Honorary Golden Bear from the Berlin Film Festival. In 2011, she acted in the Alexander Sokurov film Faust.

Hanna Schygulla has lived in Paris since 1981.


File:Hanna Schygulla childhood home.JPG
Schygulla's first childhood home, in Königshütte, Upper Silesia, now in Poland


  1. ^ a b H.W. Wilson Company (1984). Current Biography Yearbook. p. 373. 
  2. ^ Rosalind Hodgkiss "The bitter tears of Fassbinder's women", The Guardian, 8 January 1999. Retrieved on 22 February 2008.
  3. ^ Derek Malcolm "Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun", The Guardian, 28 January 1999. Retrieved on 2 March 2009.
  4. ^ "Berlinale 1978: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  5. ^ "15th Moscow International Film Festival (1987)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 

External links

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