Longtime New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael called Triumph of the Will and Olympia “the two greatest films ever directed by a woman.” When Leni Riefenstahl came to America on a promotion tour, Walter Winchell remarked that she was “pretty as a swastika.” Though she claimed all her life to be an artist pure and simple with no interest in politics, she created the most powerful Nazi propaganda films ever made, and her involvement with the Third Reich clouded the rest of her long life. We will view all six of her feature films in their entirety, with time set aside before and after each film to consider Riefenstahl’s history, her contradictions, and her art.
September 21 • The Blue Light, 1932, 85 min. (a romance, Riefenstahl stars and directs)
October 5 • Triumph of the Will, 1935, 114 min. (1934 Nazi party rally propaganda film)
October 12 • Olympia, Festival of Nations, 1938, 115 min. (1936 Berlin Olympics film, first part)
October 19 • Olympia, Festival of Beauty, 1938, 89 min. (1936 Berlin Olympics film, second part)
October 26 • Tiefland, 1954, 94 min. (a romance, Riefenstahl stars and directs)
Richard Matturro, a native of Rye, New York, holds a doctorate in English. After sixteen years at the Albany Times Union, he spent fourteen years teaching literature at University of Albany. He is the author of numerous newspaper articles and six novels