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Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.jpg
Henckel von Donnersmarck in 2015
Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck

(1973-05-02) 2 May 1973 (age 49)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1996–present

Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck (German: [ˈfloː.ʁi.aːn ˈhɛŋ.kl̩ fɔn ˈdɔ.nɐsˌmaʁk] (listen); born 2 May 1973)[1] is an Academy Award-winning German and Austrian film director. He is best known for writing and directing the 2006 dramatic thriller Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), the 2010 romantic thriller The Tourist starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and the 2018 epic drama Never Look Away.

Early years

Henckel von Donnersmarck was born in 1973 in Cologne, West Germany, into the aristocratic Roman Catholic Henckel von Donnersmarck family. He grew up in New York City, Brussels, Frankfurt, and West Berlin and is fluent in English, German, French, Russian, and Italian.

After graduating at the top of his class from the German section of the European School of Brussels I, he studied Russian literature in St. Petersburg for two years and passed the State Exam for Teachers of Russian as a Foreign Language. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy, politics and economics at New College, Oxford, and a diploma in Film Directing from the University of Television and Film Munich.[2]


The younger son of Dr. Leo-Ferdinand Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, a former president of the German division of the Order of Malta, and literary scout Anna Maria von Berg, Henckel von Donnersmarck holds German and Austrian citizenships. His father's only brother, Gregor Henckel Donnersmarck, is the emeritus abbot at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, a Cistercian monastery in the Vienna Woods where Henckel von Donnersmarck spent a month writing the first draft of The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen).[3]

Henckel von Donnersmarck is married to Christiane Asschenfeldt, the first International Executive Director of Creative Commons. They have three children and currently live in Los Angeles.[4] He stands 2.05 m (6 ft 9 in) tall.[5]


In 1977 (aged 4 or 5), while living as a child in New York, he saw his first movie at the Museum of Modern Art. He expected to see Doctor Dolittle but was "exposed instead to" the German melodrama Varieté. He cites this experience as the start of his interest in film.[6]

In 1996, he won a directing apprenticeship with Richard Attenborough on In Love and War, and then went to study at the Fiction Directing Class of the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München (University of Television and Film Munich), Germany, alma mater of directors as diverse as Wim Wenders, Roland Emmerich and Maren Ade, who was Donnersmarck's classmate. His first short film, Dobermann (which he wrote, produced, directed and edited), broke the school record for the number of awards won by a student production. It became an international festival sensation, and Donnersmarck traveled the festival circuit for over a year.[7][8]

His first feature film Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), which Donnersmarck spent three years writing, directing and completing, won the European Film Award for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Screenplay in 2006. Donnersmarck won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's award for Best Foreign Film, was nominated for the Golden Globe (which went to Clint Eastwood instead), and on 25 February 2007 won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.[9] In 2007, Donnersmarck was one of 115 new members to be invited to join AMPAS.[10]

His next film, The Tourist, was released in 2010. Donnersmarck re-wrote, directed and completed his sophomore work in under eleven months, telling Charlie Rose he had wanted a break from writing a dark screenplay about suicide. The Tourist was a thriller starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and was nominated for three Golden Globes: Best Musical or Comedy, Depp for Actor Musical or Comedy and Jolie for Actress Musical or Comedy.[11][12] It also won three Teen Choice Awards nominations (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress) of which it won two. The film opened to middling number, but eventually ended up grossing US$278.3 million at the worldwide box office,[13] prompting The Hollywood Reporter belatedly to proclaim it an "international hit".[14]

In 2019, his third feature film Never Look Away was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, for a Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and for two Oscars in the Best International Feature Film and Best Cinematography categories at the 91st Academy Awards.[15] This was only the second time in history that a German language film by a German director was nominated for an Oscar in multiple categories, the other film being Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot 36 years prior. It became one of less than two dozen German language features since the end of World War II to surpass one million dollars at the North American box office.[16] Donnersmarck and Christian Petzold are the only directors to have two films in that list. In most international territories, beginning with the Netherlands, Never Look Away became the most successful German language film since The Lives of Others.[17][18]

In 2022, he was set to direct the psychological thriller Vent for Alcon Entertainment.[19]


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer Other
1997 Mitternacht Co-Director Yes Yes Editor Short film
1998 Das Datum Co-Director Yes Yes Editor
1999 Dobermann Yes No Yes Editor
2002 Der Templer Co-Director No No No
2006 The Lives of Others Yes Yes Yes No Feature film début
2010 The Tourist Yes No Yes No
2018 Never Look Away Yes Yes Yes No
2022 Vent Yes TBA TBA TBA In Development


In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, director Howard Davies named Donnersmarck as the artist he most admired.[20]

René Pollesch wrote a play, L'Affaire Martin!, which poked fun at von Donnersmarck. According to Pollesch, the director's parents attended a performance and came backstage to say they liked it.[21]

After meeting him at the Davos World Economic Forum, Jay Nordlinger, writing for National Review, described Donnersmarck as "one of the most impressive people on the planet".[22]

The Europe List, a largest survey on European culture, named Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others second on a list of the best films in European culture, after Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful and followed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie.[23]

Kyle Smith writing for National Review ranked Donnersmarck's Never Look Away as the No. 1 Best Film of the Decade 2010–2019.[24]


In 2011, Donnersmarck was honoured by the University of Oxford, his alma mater, as one of its 100 most distinguished members from 10 centuries. The university named 100 streets in Oxford's historical centre after these graduates, with Upper Oxpens Road renamed for Donnersmarck.[25]

Selected awards and nominations


  1. ^ O'Neill, Phelim. "First sight: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck", The Guardian, (6 April 2007)
  2. ^ "Startseite – HFF München".
  3. ^ "NameBright – Coming Soon".
  4. ^ "Interview: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck of The Lives of Others". 19 February 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  5. ^ "'Never Look Away' puts director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck back in the Oscar race".
  6. ^ Rohter, Larry. "German Director Plunges Beyond His Comfort Zone", The New York Times, 8 December 2010 (9 December 2010 p. C1 NY ed.). Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  7. ^ "Kurzfilm: Donnersmarcks "Dobermann" – Stern TV | STERN.DE". Archived from the original on 12 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Film Detail – HFF Munich".
  9. ^ "German Stasi Drama Wins Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film | DW | 26.02.2007".
  10. ^ Academy Invites 115 to Become Members Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards NOMINATIONS | OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the HFPA and the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS". 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  12. ^ "HFPA – Nominations and Winners 2010". Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  13. ^ "The Tourist (2010)". Box Office Mojo. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  14. ^ "Box Office Shocker: The Tourist has Become an International Hit". The Hollywood Reporter. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Foreign Language Film Nominations 2019 Oscars". 22 January 2019. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Foreign Language Movies at the Box Office – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  17. ^ "2019 Netherlands Yearly Box Office Results". Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  18. ^ "2007 Netherlands Yearly Box Office Results". Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  19. ^ Grobar, Matt (5 April 2022). "'The Lives Of Others' Helmer Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck To Direct Psychological Thriller 'Vent', From Scribe Steven Karczynski, For Alcon Entertainment". Deadline Hollywood.
  20. ^ Laura Barnett (18 October 2010). "Portrait of the artist: Howard Davies, director". The Guardian.
  21. ^ J. S. Marcus (17 August 2007). "Theater With a Biting View of Society". Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ "Print on Demand". National Review. 13 March 2003.
  23. ^ "The self-perception of Europeans in comparison with the perception of other countries". Goethe Institute. Archived from the original on 22 May 2018.
  24. ^ "The Ten Best Movies of the 2010s". National Review. 31 December 2019.
  25. ^ Reference to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck at Oxford University website Archived 23 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 24 March 2013

Further reading

  • Cooke, Paul (2013). The Lives of Others and Contemporary German Film: A Companion. Walter De Gruyter Incorporated. ISBN 978-3-11-026810-2.
  • von Donnersmarck, Florian Henckel (2006). Das Leben der anderen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. ISBN 3-518-45786-1.
  • von Donnersmarck, Florian Henckel (2007). Das Leben der anderen. Geschwärzte Ausgabe. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. ISBN 978-3-518-45908-9.
  • Nagel, Daniela (2008). Das Drehbuch - ein Drama für die Leinwand? Drehbuchanalyse am Beispiel von Florian Henckel von Donnersmarcks "Das Leben der anderen". Tectum Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8288-9724-3.
  • A list of publications, including many articles

External links

This page was last edited on 24 December 2022, at 19:06
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