by Monika Bartyzel
For seven years there have been efforts to get a biopic on Leni Riefenstahl up and running. The German director, who died a few years ago at the age of 101, was of course, infamous for her friendship with Hitler and her propaganda films for the Third Reich. She filmed rallies, the 1936 Olympics and even the German victory parade in Warsaw after the fall of the city. While she maintained throughout her years that she was naive about the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis, she's been accused of using concentration camp captives in her films and sent a note to Hitler after the fall of France: "Your deeds exceed the power of human imagination. They are without equal in the history of mankind. How can we ever thank you?" The reality of her knowledge probably fell somewhere in the middle.
Her actions made her shunned by most after the end of the war, and it's no surprise that she refused to sign a contract for Jodie Foster to make the project. The actress would not give Leni the right to axe aspects of the film she didn't agree with, and Riefenstahl actually preferred Sharon Stone over Foster to play herself. (Perhaps she would have had a change of heart after Basic Instinct 2?) With the director/photographer having passed away, the Guardian reports that the project is once again gearing up, with Foster set to star and Rupert Walters currently writing the script. With a director planned to be attached in the next few months, producer Gabriele Bacher hopes to get the film into production by the end of the year with the help of Foster's production company. There will, of course, be controversy over spotlighting Riefenstahl, but it should be intriguing. Considering the technical advancements she made in the film medium, I wonder if they will use her artistic vision and eye for imagery when filming her story.