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Freedom Festival 1999: Regina Ziegler

Regina Ziegler

"I enjoy the challenge of the small screen. Television for some is a moloch that devours everything in sight. For me it's an opportunity to reach out and make contact with a viewing audience of millions. Where else is that possible?"

Feature films she has produced have been invited to Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Montreal, Montreux, Los Angeles, Chicago, Moscow, Sydney, New Delhi. They have been awarded top prizes: the Gold Lion in Venice, the Golden Rockies Award in Banff, the Prix de Presse at Montreux, and an Academy Award Nomination. Ziegler has served on international juries at Venice and Monte Carlo and on the Selection Committee at the Berlinale.

Among her services to the German filmmaking community has been the revitalization of Germany's national film awards program, the Bundesfilmpreis. In 1998, in recognition of her 25-year career, she received from Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Bundesverdienstkreuz Erster Klasse (German Cross for Service of Merit, First Class), one of the country's highest civilian honors.

Regina Ziegler has a record of sticking by artists she believes in. She generously chooses to support the work of some of the best filmmakers in the world, giving Europeans in particular a distinctive voice originating from the center of New Berlin.—Gary McVey


In the Name of FreedomEssay by Eva Zaoralová, Program Director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

The Holloway FileDatabase of Russian and Ex-Soviet Union directors

The Freedom Film Festival, in association with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, is proud to present a tribute to Regina Ziegler, one of the world's most creative producers. We celebrate her ability to provide leading film artists with the means to express their visions. She has the guts to make films that must be made, films that perfectly capture a particular moment in the life of her country, or a turning point in history.

Ziegler got her start at the television station Sender Freies Berlin (SFB), and after seven years worked her way up to production assistant on original programs and plays for broadcast. In 1973 she took out a personal loan and financed I Thought I Was Dead, the debut feature film of Wolf Gremm, and Regina Ziegler Filmproduktion was born. It has produced six to 12 features a year ever since. The series of screenings in tribute to the company's odyssey begins in Germany at the Freedom Film Festival's first "Berlin Selection" February 14-21.

In Los Angeles the series begins with Andrzej Wajda's Korczak, and continues with Krzysztof Zanussi's Year Of The Quiet Sun. The Goethe-Institut Los Angeles and the ACF co-host an all-day marathon of Ziegler productions, featuring films that focus on the era of a divided Germany. It closes with Fabian, Wolf Gremm's period drama on the freedom theme, and with one of her newest, Solo For Clarinet.

The role of the producer is still often unacknowledged, or misunderstood. By now, a quarter century after the height of auteurism, it is finally admitted that filmmaking is a collaborative art. When the producer is Regina Ziegler, she provides much of the energy and imagination behind a project, becoming the director's strongest ally. "Take a director and writer, and leave them alone, that's how the best films are made." This motto has led to some of her happiest collaborations: with Helma Sanders-Brahms on Heinrich (1976); with Jeanine Meerapfel on Malou (1980), recipient of the international critics (FIPRESCI) prize at Cannes; with Wolf Gremm on 21 projects, including Kamikaze 1989 (1982) starring his friend Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder The Last Year (1982); with Ray Guerra on his adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Erendira (1983); with Krzysztof Zanussi on his Venice Golden Lion winner Year of the Quiet Sun (1984) and four other films; with Andrzej Wajda on Crime And Punishment (1987); on his Best Foreign-Language Oscar entry Korczak (1990) and The Crowned-Eagle Ring (1993); and with Susan Seidelman on her Oscar-nominated The Dutch Master (1993).

In today's economic world, you can't have a viable national cinema, let alone international attention and acclaim, without supportive entrepreneurs. Though Regina's tastes are European, her way of working is closer to the American style of independent production: often, the financial risk is entirely hers. She is one of the few producers who is not totally dependent on subsidy financing.

The range of Ziegler's more than 200 productions is remarkable. She was, from the beginning, equally at home backing a production for cinema release, a documentary or feature for television, a screen adaptation of a stage success, or a TV series for young audiences