Leontine Sagan

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Leontine Sagan
Leontine Sagan.jpg
Born Leontine Schlesinger
(1889-02-13)February 13, 1889
Budapest or Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died May 20, 1974(1974-05-20) (aged 85)
Pretoria, South Africa

Leontine Sagan (born Leontine Schlesinger, February 13, 1889 – May 20, 1974) was an Austrian-Hungarian theatre director and actress of Jewish descent.[1]

Born in Budapest or Vienna, Sagan trained with Max Reinhardt. She is best remembered for the first of two films she directed, Mädchen in Uniform (1931). It has 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 in the production. Whether Sagan herself was a lesbian is unrecorded;[2] 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.[3]

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.

She also directed Mädchen in Uniform (translated as "Children in Uniform") in 1932 at the Duchess Theatre in London, featuring Jessica Tandy and Cathleen Nesbitt.

Sagan briefly worked on films with Alexander Korda in England, but then moved to South Africa and founded the National Theatre of Johannesburg.

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 has been released in its surviving form on video-tape, with English subtitles, in the US in 1994 and in the UK in 2000.

She died in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1974 at the age of 85.



  1. ^ Bernard Sachs. South African Personalities and Places. Kayor Publishers, Johannesburg, 1959. Excerpt
  2. ^ lespress.de "vermutlich lesbische Regisseurin" (Eng.: "possibly lesbian director")
  3. ^ Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey (1995), Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary, Greenwood Press, p. 322, ISBN 0-313-28972-7 .

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