Christian Petzold (director)

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Christian Petzold at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September 2014

Christian Petzold (born 14 September 1960) is a German film director.


Born in Hilden and raised in Haan, where he graduated from high school in 1979, Petzold fulfilled his military civil service in a small cinema club of a local YMCA, showing films to troubled adolescents.[1] From 1981 on he lived in Berlin, where he studied theatre and German studies at the Free University of Berlin. From 1988-1994, he studied film at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb).

His first film was Pilotinnen, which he directed for his film school graduation in 1995. In 2005, his film Gespenster was presented at the Berlinale film festival, as was his 2007 film Yella. Petzold writes his own scenarios, often collaborating with Harun Farocki. As his former teacher at dffb, Farocki was a major influence on Petzold, who, along with Angela Schanelec and Thomas Arslan, is generally considered to be part of the Berlin School.

While the Berlin School is often associated with a new turn towards realism and political cinema, Petzold's films, while they address issues of work and employment, also deal with conflicts between life and death. In Gespenster the protagonist leads a ghost-like existence,[2] In Yella the protagonist is, possibly, already dead at the beginning of the film. These three films came to be called the „Gespenster Trilogy“.[3]

The 2008 film Jerichow was his fourth collaboration with Nina Hoss after Something to remind me (German: Toter Mann), Wolfsburg and Yella. The drama concerns a soldier who, having returned from Afghanistan to Prignitz, becomes involved in relationships with married women. The movie was nominated in the main competition at the 65th Venice International Film Festival in 2008. In 2009, Petzold received a 'best director' nomination for the Deutscher Filmpreis award.[4]

Although more famous as a director of film and television, Petzold has also staged Arthur Schnitzler's The lonely way (German: Der einsame Weg) at the Deutsches Theater following an invitation by Oliver Reese. The drama, with Nina Hoss as protagonist, premiered on March 14, 2009.[5]

Petzold's film Barbara competed in competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival[6] and Petzold won the Silver Bear for Best Director.[7] The film was selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist.[8]


Short films:

  • 1988: Ich Arbeite Alles Ab... Ehrenwort! (experinemtalfilm)
  • 1989: Weiber (spielfilm)
  • 1989-1990: Süden (dokumentarfilm)
  • 1990: Ostwärts (dokumentarfilm)
  • 1992: Das Warme Geld (spielfilm)

Television films:

Feature films:



  1. ^ Interview on DVD Die innere Sicherheit
  2. ^ Petzold im Interview auf der Webpräsenz des Films Gespenster
  3. ^ Filmzentrale: „Im Zwischenreich“
  4. ^ Welt Online, 13. März 2009: „Deutscher Filmpreis: Die Nominierungen im Überblick“
  5. ^ Frankfurter Rundschau, S-Ausgabe, vom 16. März 2009, Seite 21, und Deutsches Theater Berlin
  6. ^ "Press Release, 9th Jan". 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  7. ^ "Prizes of the International Jury 2012". Berlinale. 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-19. 
  8. ^ "Germany's Oscar entry is Christian Petzold's Barbara". Screendaily. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  9. ^ Adolf-Grimme-Preis: Preisträger 2005
  10. ^ Verband der deutschen Filmkritik e. V.: Preisträger seit 1956

External links[edit]