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February 13, 1889
|Died||May 20, 1974
Pretoria, South Africa
Born in Budapest or Vienna, Sagan trained with Max Reinhardt. She is most widely known for the first of two films she directed, called Mädchen in Uniform (1931). It had an all-female cast and was ground-breaking not only for its portrayal of lesbian and pedagogical eros, but also for its co-operative and profit-sharing financial arrangements. If Sagan herself was a lesbian is unrecorded, the book Women Film Directors lists her as "lesbian film director" as she directed Christa Winsloe's play, that is said to contain lesbian themes.
An alternate ending of the movie, which pandered to pro-National Socialist ideals, enabled the film to be screened in Germany, but eventually even this version of the film was banned as 'decadent' by the National Socialist regime and Sagan fled Germany soon after.
The film Mädchen in Uniform, based on the play by Christa Winsloe, survived but was much-censored until the 1970s. Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with helping to revoke its censorship in the US. It was recently released in its surviving form as a video-tape, with English subtitles, in the US in 1994 and in the UK in 2000. Even this version probably lacks sections that were in the original and for a full understanding of what may have been censored, viewing the film may best be followed by reading the original novel by Christa Winsloe.
She died in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1974 at the age of 85.