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Leni Riefenstahl Biography

Birth Name:
Helene Berta Amalie Riefenstahl
Birth Place:
Berlin, Germany
Director, actor, photographer

Fast Facts

  • Learned filmmaking techniques from director Arnold Fanck, while starring in his popular "mountain films" of the 1920s
  • Commissioned to direct films for Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party, which led to her creation of the infamous Nazi propaganda documentary Triumph of the Will
  • Follow-up was the documentary Olympia, which focused on displaying the idealized human form at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games
  • Denied accusations of being Hitler's mistress and claimed ignorance of his intentions for Germany
  • After World War II, was imprisoned for several years in France for participation in and glorifying of the Nazi party
  • Lived with the Nuba people in southern Sudan during the 1960s; released the resulting book of photographs, The Last of the Nuba, in the early '70s
  • Published her autobiography, Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, in 1987
  • Continued sporadic photography and film work---including lensing the scuba-diving documentary Underwater Impressions---until her death at 101