Debut German film on Anne Frank premiering at Berlin festival


BERLIN  (JTA) —  A German feature film about Anne Frank will have its world premiere at the Berlin International Film festival.

“Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank, or the “Diary of Anne Frank,” directed by Hans Steinbichler, will be presented Tuesday in a special screening for youth at the festival, called the Berlinale, which runs through Feb. 21. It will reach German cinemas on March 3.

The head of the Basel-based Anne Frank Fond, Yves Kugelmann, said the film is Germany’s first cinematic production of the Anne Frank story. In 2015, the foundation initiated the first TV docudrama in Germany, “Meine Tochter Anne Frank.” The production, which won the 2015 TV Film Prize from the German Academy of Performing Arts, has been nominated for a prestigious Grimme Prize in 2016. The winners are to be announced in March.

The new movie is not without controversy. Steinbichler is also in the running to make a biopic about Hitler’s favorite film director, Leni Riefenstahl. Kugelmann called Steinbichler’s new opportunity an “unseemly overlapping” in a private letter to Steinbichler that Kugelmann said was leaked to the media.

In the letter Kugelmann, whose foundation holds the rights to the Frank family archive, criticized Steinbichler for using his Anne Frank film credentials to boost his chances to make the Riefenstahl film. According to Spiegel magazine, Kugelmann also criticized Steinbichler’s attitude toward the historical subject. Kugelmann declined to discuss the accusation with JTA.

Kugelmann reportedly told Steinbichler in the letter that he doesn’t want to have any part in an “Anne-Leni” marriage and asked the director to
postpone or give up any such plans.

Steinbichler confirmed to the German media that he has been asked to make a film about Riefenstahl, whose well-known Nazi-era propaganda documentaries include “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia.” Steinbichler said he had not yet signed a contract.

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