Steven Bach (1938-2009) author of the biography “Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl”, interviewed in 2007 by Richard Wolinsky. The play “Leni” by Sarah Greenman plays at Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley through May 7, 2017.
Leni Riefenstahl was the film maker behind the Nazi propaganda films Triumph of the Will and Olympia. Reifenstahl, who died in 2003 at the age of a hundred and one, to the end of her life denied her work was political, that she was an artist.
Stephen Bach, who died at the age of 70 in 2009, had been a studio executive and began writing books with “Final Cut”, his memoir about the making of the film Heaven’s Gate. He followed that with a biography of the playwright Moss Hart, and then a biography of actress Marlene Dietrich, which as he says, led him to Leni Riefenstahl. The interview was recorded in the KPFA studios on May 7, 2007. Guardian Obituary.
In an interview perhaps more timely than the year it was recorded, Bach compares Reifenstahl’s work to right-wing propaganda in America, and the use of the Hitler playbook. What’s scary is that he could have been describing the Trump campaign and administration.
A shorter version of this interview aired on KPFA’s Arts-Waves program.