The Actress

(Die Schauspielerin)

GDR, 1988, 86 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)


Maria (Corinna Harfouch), a rising theater star in Nazi Germany, is in love with Mark (André Hennicke), a Jewish actor. She accepts her dream job at a theater in Munich, but Mark is banned from performing—except at the Jewish Kulturbund Theatre in Berlin. Maria discovers she is unable to live without Mark, but the Nazi Nuremberg Laws strictly forbid their relationship. So that they can be together, Maria decides to fake her own suicide and assume a Jewish identity.


Corinna Harfouch won the Best Actress Award at the 1988 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for her performance in the role of Maria. 


Martin Brandt (Judgment at NurembergMorituri), a former member of the Jewish Theater, appears in his final film role in The Actress. The DVD also includes the documentary Traces (1989, dir. Eduard Schreiber) featuring this unforgettable actor.


Based on the novel An Arrangement with Death by Hedda Zinner.



1990 Best Cinematography (Peter Ziesche), GDR Feature Film Festival Berlin
1990 Best Scenography (Hans Poppe, also for Jadup und Boel), GDR Feature Film Festival Berlin
1989 "Big Clapperboard" Critics' Prize, Theory and Criticism Section of the GDR Film and Television Professionals Association
1989 Best Actress of the Year 1988 (Corinna Harfouch), Theory and Criticism Section of the GDR Film and Television Professionals Association
1989 Art Prize of the Free German Trade Union Federation (Siegfried Kühn, Regine Kühn, Erika Richter, Peter Ziesche, Hans Poppe, Corinna Harfouch, André Hennicke)
1988 Best Actress (Corinna Harfouch), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Press comments

“A character study of an extraordinary woman, convincingly performed.”    
— Encyclopedia of International Film


 “The film echoes aspects of the plays The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth and Andorra by Max Frisch, but most clearly it cites the early DEFA film classic Marriage in the Shadows.”   
—Thomas C. Fox, Stated Memory: East Germany and the Holocaust


“Movies about Nazi Germany in this period are almost always tragic, sad, horrible or all of the above. The Actress acknowledges the grim reality while telling a highly attractive romantic story. It leaves us impressed by its dynamic main character, who knows very well that her story will not have a happy ending. Movie: Excellent!” 
—Glenn Erickson,


Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • New digitally restored version
  • Turn Subtitles On/Off
  • Bio & Filmographies
  • Traces, GDR, 1989, dir. Eduard Schreiber, 21 min.
  • “Cracks in the Berlin Wall: Identity, Remembrance, and the Jewish Kulturbund Theatre,” by Rebecca Rovit, University of Kansas
  • “The Art of Corinna Harfouch: A Multifaceted Performance,” by Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst

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