PIC INSPIRATION: “Kramer vs. Kramer.” “I was 12 when I first saw it. I went three times in one day. It was so fascinating how this movie could involve me emotionally.”
Rothemund spent nearly two years researching his latest film, “Sophie Scholl –The Final Days,” the story of a young member of the White Rose, a Third Reich resistance group, who is arrested and executed by the Gestapo for distributing fliers at her university.
“I think the responsibility (of this film) is huge; this is the most famous German resistance group,” Rothemund says. “There are still living eyewitnesses and family members.”
With the help of screenwriter Fred Breinersdorfer and a few researchers, the director combed through interrogation reports thought destroyed by German leaders. He also conducted interviews with relatives of Scholl and her interrogator. The result is an authentic and dramatic account of a woman who fought for her beliefs.
The son of German TV director Sigi Rothemund, the helmer says he was first inspired to make movies after his parents divorced, when he spent school holidays on the set of his father’s productions.
Starting as a set driver, he worked his way up to first a.d. “I learned the fascination of teamwork,” he says.
Rothemund believes an actor’s visual link to the audience is crucial to the emotional success of a film. “Nothing should disturb the connection between the audience and the actor’s eyes,” he says. “We only moved the camera when the characters moved.”
“Sophie Scholl” star Julia Jentsch says Rothemund is relentlessly involved when it comes to his films. “From the first day of research until the last day of promotion, he is really giving all he can,” she says.
Rothemund already has won critical praise internationally for “Sophie Scholl,” including nabbing the director kudos at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival and the European Film Awards. Pic is Germany’s foreign-language Oscar submission.
Despite “Scholl’s” success — it has surpassed 1 million theatrical admissions in Germany — Rothemund insists local audiences prefer a good comedy. He says that’s why he alternates between dramas and lighter pieces. His next project is “Pornorama,” a laffer about the social controversies two youths run into while filming the first German porn, circa 1968.