Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, hello to Hollywood
by Bénédicte Prot
- Maria Schrader’s biographical film on the great Austrian author will represent Austria in the race for the upcoming Oscar nominations
The selection committee of the FAMA (Austrian Federation of Film and Music Industries) has chosen the biographical film Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe [+see also:
interview: Maria Schrader
film profile] by actress-director Maria Schrader to represent the country in the race for the Oscar nominations in the Best Foreign-language Film category. It was produced by Stefan Arndt for X Filme Creative Pool (Germany), in co-production with Maha Productions (France) and Danny Krausz for Austrian-based outfit Dor Film.
The film, which is split into six episodes that unfold between 1936 and 1942, pays close attention to detail as it portrays the exile of great Jewish Austrian author Stefan Zweig (played brilliantly by actor Josef Hader, who is in the process of finishing his feature-length directorial debut, Wilde Maus) in the Americas, and the deep despair that eventually overwhelmed the uprooted author and his young wife, Lotte (Aenne Schwarz), as they jointly committed suicide by poisoning themselves in their house in Brazil.
The selection committee praised “the sensitive and fascinating way the film recounts his experience of being stateless, in exile and uprooted”. Schrader, who declared she was “very honoured and delighted”, thinks “the huge interest shown in the film abroad proves how topical the subjects it tackles still are”.
Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, co-written by the director with her colleague Jan Schomburg, had its international premiere this summer, on the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival. French sales agent Films Distribution has already sold it to around 15 territories. In Germany, where the movie was launched theatrically on 2 June by X Verleih, it received a very warm welcome from the critics and has sold more than 206,000 tickets. Furthermore, it has been nominated for two German Film Awards: Best Director and Best Supporting Actress, thanks to the performance of Barbara Sukowa in the role of Friderike Zweig, the novelist’s first wife. The cast also includes Matthias Brandt, Charly Hübner and Icelandic actor Tómas Lemarquis (who played Noi in Dágur Kari’s Noi the Albino).
Over the last ten years, Austria has twice been crowned with the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film: in 2008 with The Counterfeiters [+see also:
film profile] by Stefan Ruzowitzky and in 2013 with Amour [+see also:
interview: Michael Haneke
film profile] by Michael Haneke. Its German "rival" for the nominations this year, Toni Erdmann [+see also:
Q&A: Maren Ade
film profile] by Maren Ade, was co-produced by Austria and starred Austrian actor Peter Simonischek in the title role.
(Translated from French)