Maria Schrader was born in Hanover on September 27 1965. She began acting in theatre as a schoolgirl, then dropped out of high school and studied acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. She took on her first film roles at the end of the nineteen-eighties, in the films she made together with her then boyfriend Dani Levy, for which she not only acted in front of the camera but also co-authored the scripts.

This led to RobbyKallePaul, followed by the first film shot in New York, I Was On Mars, for which she won the Max Ophüls Prize. Afterwards, she received other offers and started her film career as an actor. At the same time, she remained faithful to her collaboration with Levy and continued to develop her own projects. Silent Night premiered in the competition of the Berlinale. Schrader and Levy also shared the direction of their second film to be made in New York, The Giraffe. Maria Schrader says of those early independent works: 

“I became more confident from project to project. I learned film editing at Steenbeck and helped out in production design. I was a writer, an actor, and at one point my own make-up and costume designer; I was a still photographer, and eventually co-director. It was a kind of self-exploratory film school, classic ‘learning by doing’. By the time I directed on my own for the first time, I had already made around 30 films as an actor and had been able to observe many other directors and their working methods.“

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She has worked with Rainer Kaufmann, Florian Flicker, Margarethe von Trotta, Peter Greenaway and Agnieszka Holland. She received the Federal Film Award and the Bavarian Film Award in 1995 for the role of Fanny in Doris Dörrie‘s Keiner liebt mich (Nobody Loves Me). A little later, she also received several awards for her portrayal of the clever and incredibly courageous Jewish woman, Felice, in Aimée & Jaguar (Max Fäberböck), including the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. Schrader could be seen regularly on the stages of Schauspiel Köln in Cologne, Deutsches Theater Berlin, Theater Basel, Thalia Theater Hamburg and others, as well as being an ensemble member of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg.

Her first directorial effort, Liebesleben (Love Life), a film adaptation of the book by the same name from Israeli author Zeruya Shalev, was a success in German cinemas in 2007. Although Maria Schrader continued to take on roles as an actor, it was her work as a director that now became most important to her: “They are two completely different professions,” she says. 

“But my experience with acting helps me when directing [...] Love Life was not necessarily the easiest of first films. I used to think that you got the short end of the stick as an actor. Now I know what astonishing power they sometimes have.”

She demonstrated this experience with her second ambitious film Vor der Morgenröte (Fare- well to Europe), in which the melancholic writer is portrayed magnificently by Josef Harder. “The biggest challenge with this project was how to approach such a complex life. The film is not a classic biopic; it uses Stefan Zweig as an example to illuminate the challenges of life in exile – the isolation, the loss of language, the new beginning, the longing for home. These are themes that have become increasingly relevant since the film came out in 2016.”

Finally, in 2020, she directed the mini-series Unorthodox for Netflix, based on the novel of the same name by Deborah Feldman. For this work, Maria Schrader became the first German director ever to win the Best Director of a Series award at the prestigious US television Emmy Awards.

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In her third feature film, I‘m Your Man (2021), the director explores whether a woman can fall in love with a male robot. And she can – Alma, a single but by no means lonely scientist from Berlin, tests the prototype of a love robot.

“Alma follows her desires and at the same time acts against her convictions. Reason and emotion become entangled in contradiction. [...] The film focuses less on the robot and more on the question of what constitutes a human being, what do we need so we can love someone? Haven‘t we voluntarily adjusted to the needs of our partners in conventional relationships? Like an algorithm? What is true? What is learned?”

Maria Schrader received no less than four accolades at the German Film Awards for I’m Your Man, including the Lolas for Best Feature, Screenplay and Direction, while her leading actress Maren Eggert also won the prize as Best Female Lead.

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She Said is Maria Schrader’s first Hollywood project, made possible mainly by the great success of Unorthodox in the USA. This film, based on the investigative research of New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, describes how Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein abused his power in the industry for decades to sexually coerce women. It also depicts the beginnings of the #MeToo movement, highlighting the power of investigative journalism.

“Abuse of power doesn‘t have to be sexual,” Schrader says, “and women can be guilty of it, too.

At the time, I was already reflecting on whether I might have behaved wrongly in my position as a director. I have certainly become more aware of how I am dealing with people on set since then. […] The stories of the witnesses are the scenes that remain especially close to my heart. They are true stories; we all had respect for that, and that’s why they have such intensity and emotionality.”

The Half-World

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HALF WORLD, 6 a.m.: Sirens wail. The streets empty. Windows are blacked out. People flee underground. – The sirens die down. Silence. Above the lifeless city, the sun rises and casts its deadly light over HALF WORLD.

12 hours later: sunset, all-clear siren, life begins. – Good night. The film shows different survival techniques in an artificial world: action, love, sex, violence.

In the metropolises of HALF WORLD, a culture of different languages and ways of life proliferates. Katz, a dealer, roams around selling old postcards of a nature long decayed.

Herzog stands on the roof of his house every morning with a stopwatch, trying to bear the sunrise. “The whites” have the monopoly on the past and produce electronic illusions with old photographs of nature for an invisible elite.

“The blacks” take possession of these illusion machines and manipulate them. And in Sunny‘s day bar, this HALF WORLD meets. A mixture of science fiction and eco-thriller.


Florian Flicker


Österreich 1993

Nobody Loves Me

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Fanny, a self-confident and lonely single shortly before her 30th birthday, is convinced that she is more likely to be hit by an atomic bomb than to find a man for life.

In the desolate high-rise building in which she lives, by chance Fanny meets the eccentric black bon vivant Orfeo: When they meet, he’s wearing a skeleton costume, he is homosexual and poses as a medicine man and medium. The two become friends and begin spending time together. Orfeo prophesizes that she will soon meet her prince charming.

Fanny promptly falls in love with Lothar, who matches the prophecies. Although he drives a sleek car, is good-looking and has charm, the romance between Fanny and him doesn’t really take off. When Fanny later learns that Orfeo is terminally ill, she realizes instead that she has found love with him, of all people, and in a completely different way than she would have imagined during her long search. She takes a course in “self-determined dying” which includes building one’s own coffin and concludes with a simulation of one’s own funeral.

In the end, instead of simply dying, Orfeo disappears in a rather magical way, Fanny looks to the future with more hope, and Orfeo’s prophecies come true once again.


Doris Dörrie


Deutschland 1994

Silent Night

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A man in Paris, a woman in Berlin.

Julia, an art student in her late twenties, has been living together with Christian, a police detective, for several years. Their relationship has been at risk since Julia fell in love with a young bartender, Frank, who likes to unsettle her with provocative sex. Christian escapes Berlin over the holiday. He doesn’t want to live without Julia and yet he can’t stand being with her. He sets himself an eight-hour ultimatum to win her back. Alone for the first time, Julia decides to end the affair with Frank. Frank, in turn, thinks Christmas Eve would be a good time to finally confess his love to Julia. In this situation, Christian initiates a night of relationship all-time-lows with a macabre move. An erotic adventure begins.


Dani Levy


Deutschland, Schweiz 1996

The Giraffe

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When German Jew Lena Katz goes to pick up her mother from a New York hotel for her birthday dinner, she finds a strange woman lying in a pool of blood in the hotel corridor. Lena accompanies this seriously injured woman to the emergency ward where she meets the latter’s son, David Fish. It is love at first sight for both of them.

David’s mother dies as a result of her injuries that same night and Lena’s mother, although she has just arrived, hastily leaves New York without an explanation.

The dead woman in the New York hotel is a mystery: was it an accident or was she murdered? David, the dead woman’s son, sets out into the heat of New York together with a rather shady lawyer, Kaminski, to trace the case.

In the course of the investigations, Kaminski’s suspicions towards Lena’s family grow, as well as the passion of those involved, David and Lena. Fear and the turmoil of emotions, however, mean that Lena misses any opportunity to confess her origins. When she learns of the impending burden of proof against her own mother, she is faced with the most difficult decision in her life: should she protect her family whose dark secrets and entanglements she knows nothing about, or should she confide in David and the increasingly sinister Kaminski in order to solve the crime between their two families?


Dani Levy, Maria Schrader


Deutschland, Schweiz 1998

Aimée & Jaguar

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Germany, 1943. Lilly Wust is in her late twenties, married, mother of four children. Her husband is a soldier in the war. One day, Lilly meets the self-confident Felice. The two become friends, but Lilly senses from the start that Felice wants more from her than mere “friendship”.

At first, Lilly reacts dismissively to Felice’s courtship. Eventually, however, a passionate love develops between the two women. Even when Lilly, who is married to a devoted Nazi, learns that Felice is Jewish and belongs to a resistance group, she stands by her lover. She divorces her husband and takes Felice into her apartment. For as long as possible, the two women repress the brutal German reality of life at that time and all the impending dangers. Until the Gestapo shows up at their apartment in August 1944.

For one of them, this forbidden love becomes the decisive experience of her life. For her friend, an intrepidly flamboyant Jewish woman working for an underground organization, it is a play with fire - but also her last chance to wrest a fulfilled piece of life from the murderous regime.


Max Färberböck


Deutschland 1999


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Jara seems to have everything: she is happily married, has ideal prospects for a university career, lives in a nice flat and is able to rely on her family who stick together despite the odd difficulty. But when she meets Arie, her father’s friend who is far older than her, this perfect world is completely out of joint‚: she falls for his fascinating erotic, contradictory attractions. Curious and hungry for life, she launches herself into the whirlpool of an amour fou that breaches every dam of her previous existence. In the process, she realises that her parens are guarding a secret to which Arie is the key, but also that no love, no man alone should determine her life....


Maria Schrader


Deutschland 2007

Vergiss Mein Ich

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Lena Ferben has been married to her husband Tore for years when she suddenly loses herself. Doctors call Lena’s condition retrograde amnesia; the reason being undiagnosed inflammation of the brain. As a result, she can no longer access what medicine calls biographical memory. And how strangely the brain works: The language is still there, but the words are not linked to any experience. Comedy... fidelity... sex... love... husband...

Words floating in a vacuum, cut off from their basic meanings. Tore tries to help Lena find a way back to what he was to her and she to him: a retelling of a reality already experienced. But while those around her feel only the loss of the old Lena, she herself follows a path of her own.


Jan Schomburg


Deutschland 2014

Farewell to Europa

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The film relates episodes from Austrian writer Stefan Zweig’s life in exile. At the height of his worldwide fame, he was driven to emigrate and despaired over the downfall of Europe, which he had foreseen early on.

It is the story of a refugee, the story of losing one’s former home and searching for a new one. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, Petrópolis were four stations of Stefan Zweig’s exile which, despite providing a safe refuge, a hospitable reception and a stunning natural world in the tropics, did not grant him peace and could not replace his homeland.


Maria Schrader


Deutschland 2016

I‘m Your Man

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Alma is a scientist at the famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In order to get research funding for her work, she is persuaded to take part in an extraordinary study. For three weeks, she is supposed to live with a humanoid robot fully tailored to her needs and character, one whose artificial intelligence is designed to be her perfect life partner. Alma meets Tom, an advanced machine in human form, created solely to make her happy.….


Maria Schrader


Deutschland 2021

She Said

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The film tells the story of the risky journey of two female journalists who in 2017 uncovered the wide-spread abuse of power against women in the US film business.

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor break the great silence in Hollywood: They expose business meetings in hotel rooms as sexual assaults and encounter a web of repression, blackmail and fear. With their courageous research, they not only give the affected women their voice back, but also trigger a worldwide wave of solidarity and cause a tremor not only in Hollywood, but also give the impetus for a change in American society that continues to this day.

The film traces one of the most important stories of a generation, told by courageous women who, despite great personal risk, decided to to fight back to stop an accused serial offender from doing even more harm. Thanks to their courageous efforts, they were able to stop not only an individual perpetrator, but also the system that made this abuse of power possible in the first place.


Maria Schrader


Vereinigte Staaten 2022