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Honoring European Icon Bruno Ganz


 Bruno Ganz in WINGS OF DESIRE (Wim Wenders)

Veteran Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, best known for his role as Adolf Hitler in the biopic "The Downfall", will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight's European Film Awards, to be held for the first time in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss mechanic father and a northern Italian mother. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor and found his first success in live theater in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

In 1960, Ganz landed his first film role, in “Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone” (The Gentleman in the Black Derby). The first 15 years of his film career was mainly in character roles and mainly spent time on the live stage in between film performances. He had his breakthrough role in the lead role of the 1976 film Sommergäste” (Summer Guests), which launched a film career that has included working in Europe and the United States. His celebrated collaborations with directors Eric Rohmer (“The Marquise of O”), Werner Herzog (“Nosferatu”), Wim Wenders (“The American Friend”, “Wings of Desire”), Peter Handke (“The Left Handed Woman”), Alain Tanner (“In The White City”), Silvio Soldini (“Bread And Tulips”), Gillian Armstrong (“The Last Days of Chez Nous” and Francis Ford Coppola (“Youth Without Youth”) reveal an astonishing variety of roles that have cemented his reputation as one of the world’s leading acting talents.    

Ganz played a professor opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the thriller “The Boys from Brazil” (1978), based on the famed Ira Levin novel about Nazi fugitives in Argentina. His most celebrated role has been as Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler in “Der Untergang” (The Downfall, 2004). Ganz did four months of research on Hitler in preparation for the role. The film, a German/Italian/Austrian epic drama film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicted the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker in 1945. The film was written by Bernd Eichinger and was honored with many international awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.


The prolific actor has recently appeared in such celebrated films as “The Reader” and Der Baader Meinhof Komplex”, which were both nominated for the 81st Academy Awards. Ganz appears in Tallinn today for a special screening of a new Swiss family film, “Julia’s Disappearance” by director Christoph Schaub, where the veteran actor will have a live on-stage interview. He is an international talent, comfortable working around the globe and in many different languages. His is the face of the highlights of postwar European cinema.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor 


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