By Jose Solis
Two years after The Grand Budapest Hotel put Stefan Zweig’s writing at the center of the Oscar race, the author himself now is the protagonist of Austria’s submission Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe. Directed by Maria Schrader, the film focuses on Zweig’s exile in South America after fleeing Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, played with gravitas by Josef Hader, Zweig becomes one of the most powerful male characters of the year, in a performance that works on an intellectual as well as visceral level. Audiences who only know Schrader from her acting work, in films like Aimee & Jaguar, will be caught off guard by her elegant sense of framing, her impeccable pacing and the way she engages the viewer by avoiding going into any biopic stereotypes. I spoke to her about making the film, working with Hader, and what an Oscar nomination could mean for the film.
JOSE: This was a very hard movie to watch after the American election.
MARIA SCHRADER: Should I take that as a compliment?
MARIA SCHRADER: (Laughs)