The Max Ophüls Prize Festival pays tribute to Heike Makatsch
by Teresa Vena
- This year’s gathering in Saarbrücken paid homage to the German thesp, known for her performance as singer-songwriter Hildegard Knef in the biopic Hilde
During this year's Max Ophüls Prize Festival (20-26 January), four films were presented that featured performances by Heike Makatsch. They included three of her most recent productions as well as the German movie in which she played her most popular role. Besides the film screenings, the German thesp also held a workshop and talk open to the public.
“Heike Makatsch is one of the most successful German actresses, whose acting is characterised by versatility and naturalness,” says festival director Svenja Böttger. Indeed, Makatsch's talent is there for all to admire in the biopic Hilde [+see also:
film profile] by Kai Wessel, where she breathes life into German singer-songwriter Hildegard Knef, one of the idols of the German homosexual community during the post-World War II years. Makatsch's performance was highly acclaimed and was all the more remarkable on account of her resemblance to Knef as well as her impressive singing skills. Singing and dancing take on even greater importance in the musical-comedy Ich war noch niemals in New York by Philipp Stölzl, a co-production between Germany and Austria.
The third film in the programme highlights Makatsch’s versatility. In Fremde Tochter by Stephan Lacant, from 2017, she performs in a social drama about religious misunderstandings while attempting to overcome obstacles in a love story. To showcase the actress’ origins, the festival also screened the comedy-satire Jailbirds by Detlev Buck, from 1996. At the time of its release, the film enjoyed considerable success in Germany and also starred well-known director of family comedies Til Schweiger. In it, Makatsch once again plays the role of a singer and won (then as a 25-year-old) the Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Actress. It was at that point that she kick-started her successful career as an actress.
In actual fact, Makatsch, the daughter of a primary-school teacher and a former German national ice-hockey team member, wanted to become a journalist. But after a few semesters of Political Science, showbiz got in the way of this plan. She joined the then newly founded music channel VIVA as a presenter in 1993 and became a style icon and a big-sister figure for a whole generation of young viewers. Makatsch played her first leading role in the German-French co-production Obsession (1997) by Peter Sehr, which earned her a nomination for the German Film Award.
The list of female characters that Heike Makatsch has played is very lengthy. In particular, her portrayals of historical female personalities have brought the actress much recognition and numerous awards. The 48-year-old has so far appeared in more than 50 cinema and television films, not only national productions but also international ones. For instance, she worked with Paul WS Anderson on Resident Evil and with Richard Curtis on Love Actually [+see also:
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