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Leo and Claire (Leo und Claire)

Leo and Claire

Germany 1933. Leo Katzenberger is a wealthy businessman, a prominent member of the community. At heart a German patriot, born in Nuremberg where he spent all his life, he is also a Jew. His company resides in a courtyard he considers to be his own little kingdom. Leo's world is shattered when he rents an apartment out to the young and attractive photographer Irene. She capriciously flirts with Leo and soon people are talking about the Jew and the German girl ...

In a time when "the purity of the Aryan race" is ascendant, this mild affair rapidly becomes a political issue - Leo, after all, is a Jew. Denounced by his hate-filled neighbors, he is condemned to be executed via the guillotine.

Leo and Claire captures in straightforward imagery a chapter of Nazi history based on a true story as documented in the book Der Jude und das Maedchen by Christiane Kohl.


Joseph Vilsmaier was born in 1939 and grew up in Munich and Pfarrkirchen. He undertook an apprenticeship at ARRI from 1953 to 1961 and studied Music at the Munich Conservatory. In 1961, he became a camera assistant at Bavaria and has been a director of photography since 1972. He made his directorial debut in 1988 with AUTUMN MILK (HERBSTMILCH), followed by RAMA DAMA (1990), STALINGRAD (1992), CHARLIE & LOUISE (1993), BROTHER OF SLEEP (SCHLAFES BRUDER, 1995), COMEDIAN HARMONISTS (1997), MARLENE (1999),LEO & CLAIRE (2001), ROCK CRYSTAL (BERGKRISTALL, 2004), THE LAST TRAIN (DER LETZTE ZUG, 2006), DIE GESCHICHTE VOM BRANDNER KASPAR (2008), and NANGA PARBAT (2009).
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2001
Director Joseph Vilsmaier
Screenplay Klaus Richter, Reinhard Klooss
Cinematography Joseph Vilsmaier
Hans Funck
Gert Wilden Jr.
Uwe Szielasko
Cast Axel Milberg, Jürgen Schornagel, Suzanne von Borsody, Dietmar Schoenherr, Andrea Sawatzki, Jochen Nickel, Franziska Petri, Alexandra Maria Lara, Michael Degen, Jasmin Schwiers, Rüdiger Vogler
Producers Joseph Vilsmaier, Reinhard Klooss
Production Company Odeon Pictures/Geiselgasteig, in co-production with Perathon Film/Munich
Length 106 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
Festivals Montreal 2001 (in competition)
With backing from German Federal Film Board, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern

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