Opening 12 Apr 2018
Writing credits: Emily Atef
Principal actors: Marie Bäumer, Birgit Minichmayr, Charly Hübner, Robert Gwisdek, Denis Lavant
In 1981 Romy Schneider (1938 - 1982), one of Europe's most iconic movie stars, met with Stern* reporter Michael Jürgs and photographer Robert Lebeck in Brittany/France to give, what turned out to be, her last extensive interview. Writer/director Emily Atef's 115-minute black-and-white film was inspired by this interview and the accompanying photo spread.
Born into a family of Austrian actors, Schneider started acting at fifteen. Her portrayal of the sweet young Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Sissi sealed her fame already at age sixteen. Though she moved on to become an internationally acclaimed star with an impressive portfolio of films, German audiences especially loved and identified her exclusively with Sissi. At the time the interview took place she had long made her home in France, where she felt better appreciated professionally and hoped to escape the public eye. The German press had relentlessly infringed on her personal life and maligned her for choosing France over Germany. Though she considered photographer Lebeck a friend, with her strained relationship to the German press in mind, it is more than surprising that she invited just these two to meet with her and at, of all places, a rehab-clinic that she had checked into.
Though the film becomes exhausting at some point, it is worth seeing for the exceptional performances. Marie Bäumer, with an eerie resemblance to Romy Schneider, renders a charismatic and deeply contradictory woman: radiant, charming, generous and effusive, but also: needy, desperate, and manipulative. Robert Gwisdek convinces as a skillful interviewer (Jürgs). Though he knows how to take advantage of Romy's lack of sense for self-protective boundaries, he turns out not always to be the "cat" in this three-day "cat & mouse" game, As always, it's a pleasure to watch Charly Hübner, here as Romy's favorite photographer Robert Lebeck, torn between his loyalty and his job. (*weekly German magazine). (Carola A)
Director Emily Atef unveils the multifaceted character of Romy Schneider (Marie Bäumer) with her everyday fights against the stereo-type character that she played in the Austrian trilogy Sissi. This black-and-white film set in a rehab hotel along the Breton coast in 1981plays an important role. Romy, with no make-up portrays a soft, alarmingly naïve and open-to-the-world person who holds a cigarette in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. She suffered terribly at her inability as a wife, mother and friend. It’s this time period when the world-famous photos of Romy were taken by the photographer Robert Lebeck (Charly Hüber) and Stern Magazine reporter Micheal Jürgs (Robert Gwiwsdek) got his interview where Romy is ready to bare her soul to the world with a drink in one hand and a stranger on her arm. Even Romy’s childhood friend Hilde (Birgit Minichmayr) who attempted to protect her against any exploitative elements that could arrive had no power. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)