Hanna Schygulla
Schygulla in 1982
Born (1943-12-25) 25 December 1943 (age 80)
Königshütte, Silesia
(now Chorzów, Poland)
Occupation(s)Actress, singer
Years active1968–present

Hanna Schygulla (German: [ˈhana ʃyˈɡʊla] ; born 25 December 1943) is a German actress and chanson singer[1] associated with the theater and film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. She first worked for Fassbinder in 1965 and became an active participant in the New German Cinema. Schygulla won the 1979 Berlin Silver Bear for Best Actress for Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun, and the 1983 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the Marco Ferreri film The Story of Piera.[2]

Early life

Schygulla was born in Königshütte (now Chorzów, Poland) to German parents Antonie (née Mzyk) and Joseph Schygulla.[3] Both the names Schygulla (also spelled Szyguła) and Mzyk are of Polish/Silesian origin. Her father, a timber merchant by profession, was drafted as an infantryman in the German Army and was captured by American forces in Italy, subsequently being held as a prisoner of war until 1948. In 1945, Schygulla and her mother arrived as refugees in Munich, following the expulsion of the majority German-speaking population of Königshütte by Communist Poland.[3] Much later, in the 1960s, Schygulla studied Romance languages and German studies, while taking acting lessons in Munich during her spare time.


Schygulla with Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1980

Acting eventually became her focus, and she became particularly known for her film work with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. During the making of Effi Briest (1974), an adaptation of a German novel by Theodor Fontane, Fassbinder and Schygulla fell out over divergent interpretations of the character.[4] Another issue for Schygulla was low pay, and she led a revolt against Fassbinder during the making of Effi Briest, shot in September 1972 some time before its commercial release. His response was typically blunt: "I can't stand the sight of your face any more. You bust my balls".[5] They did not work together again for several years until The Marriage of Maria Braun in 1978. The film was entered into the 29th Berlin International Film Festival, where she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her performance.[6] In 1980 she acted in Fassbinder's miniseries adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz.[7]

Schygulla starred alongside Bruno Ganz in Volker Schlöndorff's Circle of Deceit (1981), and with Isabelle Huppert in Jean-Luc Godard's Passion (1982). She was a member of the jury at the 15th Moscow International Film Festival in 1987.[8]

In the 1990s, she became a chanson singer. In Juliane Lorenz's documentary film Life, Love and Celluloid (1998), on Fassbinder and related topics, Schygulla performs several songs.

Schygulla appeared in the Béla Tarr film Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), and in VB51 (2002), a performance by the artist Vanessa Beecroft. Five years later, she appeared in the film The Edge of Heaven, directed by Fatih Akın.[citation needed] She also appeared in Rosa von Praunheim's film Fassbinder's Women (2000).

In 2007, she received the Honorary Award from the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival and in 2010 she received the Honorary Golden Bear from the Berlin Film Festival. She acted in the Alexander Sokurov film Faust (2011) and in the French drama film The Prayer (2018) by Cédric Kahn. It was screened in the main competition section at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.

Schygulla lived in Paris from 1981 to 2014, then moved to Berlin.



  1. ^ [1] Hanna Schygulla Biography
  2. ^ [2] Hanna Schygulla Biography at IMDB
  3. ^ a b H.W. Wilson Company (1984). Current Biography Yearbook. p. 373.
  4. ^ Rosalind Hodgkiss "The bitter tears of Fassbinder's women", The Guardian, 8 January 1999; retrieved 22 February 2008.
  5. ^ Derek Malcolm "Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Marriage of Maria Braun", The Guardian, 28 January 1999; retrieved 2 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Berlinale 1978: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  7. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (27 March 2017). "The muse and the monster: Fassbinder's favourite star on surviving his abuse". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  8. ^ "15th Moscow International Film Festival (1987)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2015.