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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deutschland, Schweiz 1996
Dani Levy, Maria Schrader
Deutschland, Schweiz 1998
Vereinigte Staaten 2022