Knauf, Thomas


Thomas Knauf was born in 1951 in Halle/Saale, East Germany. After finishing school, he worked in various jobs until he joined East German television as an assistant director in 1971. In 1976, he enrolled at the Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg.


Knauf worked as an assistant to the director István Szabó on Mephisto, which won an Oscar. Shortly thereafter he began screenwriting for the DEFA Studio for Feature Films, where he continued to work until 1990. Among his best-known films from this time are Rabenvater, Vorspiel, Treffen in Travers, and Die Architekten.


From 1990 until 1994, Knauf lived in New York. He collaborated on videos with Laurie Anderson, was the host of the New York based cable television show “Cinema then, Cinema now,” and worked as a foreign correspondent for the German weekly magazine Freitag. In the 1990s, he also directed several documentary films—including Shalom Israel and two films about Nepal—for the television program Europe and the World. He has also written screenplays for television crime shows, several of which he also directed.


Knauf has also become known as a talented script doctor, who has “repaired” screenplays for several films that became successes, such as the German-Turkish co-production Journey into the Sun and the Polish film Wojaczek, which garnered many international awards. He has taught scriptwriting at the Konrad Wolf Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelberg, at the Ernst Busch School for Performing Arts in Berlin, and at the German Academy for Film and Television in Berlin.


Besides contributions to the Lettre international, Knauf has written successful crime stories. He is also known as a photographer and is currently working on a documentary about the German actor Jürgen Holtz. [See:]

Festivals & Awards:

1999 Human Rights Award, Berlin International Film Festival for Journey into the Sun
1989 Contribution, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival, for Treffen in Travers
1987 Max Ophüls Prize, Saarbrücken, for Vorspiel
1982 Oscar for Best Foreign Film for Mephisto


Bibliography & More:

Knauf, Thomas. Die Nächte der Kanzlerin. Zurich: Diwan Verlag. 2014. (also available as audio book)


Knauf, Thomas. Mord hält jung. Berlin: Be.bra Verlag. 2013.


Knauf, Thomas. Berliner Weisse mit Schuss. Berlin: Be.bra Verlag. 2012.


Knauf, Thomas. Der Golem vom Prenzlauer Berg. Berlin: Be.bra Verlag. 2012.


Knauf, Thomas. Babelsberg-Storys: Erlebnisse eines Drehbuchautors in Ost und West. Berlin/Cologne: Alexander Verlag. 2011.


2015 Als wir die Zukunft des Sozialismus waren (When We Were the Future of Socialism. Episode: Mao Bibel & Merseburger Zaubersprüche)
2014 Gespräche um nichts – Jürgen Holtz (Talks about Nothing: Jürgen Holtz, doc.)
2008 Wir waren so frei (We Were Free People, script, dir., doc.)
2004 Klaus Kuron – Spion im eigenen Auftrag (Klaus Kuron: Spy on His Own Behalf, dir., TV)
2001 Poison Heart (script doctor)
1999 Wojaczek (script doctor)
1999 Journey into the Sun (script doctor)
1999 Ein Mann steht auf (A Man Gets Up, co-script, TV)
1996 Brennendes Herz (Burning Heart, script, TV)
1995 Shalom Israel (dir., doc.)
1995 Nepal, Land zwischen Himmel und Erde (Nepal, Land between Heaven and Earth, dir., doc.)
1995 Nepal, Land zwischen Gestern und Morgen (Nepal, Land between Yesterday and Tomorrow, dir., doc.)
1991 Die Spur des Bernsteinzimmers (The Mystery of the Amber Room, script)
1990 Die Architekten (The Architects, script)
1989 Treffen in Travers (Meeting in Travers, script)
1987 Vorspiel (Ready for Life, script)
1986 Rabenvater (Bad Father, script)


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