A Star Is Born
by Martin Blaney - German Films Quarterly
17/11/2006 - It all began in January with the Bavarian Film Award for Best Newcomer Actress for her performance in Hans-Christian Schmid's new feature film Requiem [trailer, film focus]. A month later, she was the toast of the Berlinale when the international jury, headed by legendary British-born actress Charlotte Rampling, awarded her its Silver Bear Best Actress prize. Then, in mid-May, the 750-plus members of the German Film Academy voted Sandra Hueller this year's recipient of the German Film Award (Lola) in Gold for Best Actress, to go along with the four other Lolas Schmid's film picked up that evening.
Hueller already has quite a track record in the German-speaking theatre world despite her young age. She was named the Newcomer Actress of the Year by Theater heute in 2003 and has gone from one triumph to the next in her four years at the theatre in the Swiss city of Basel. The fact that she would one day make a profession out of acting was not part of any grand plan when she was growing up in Thuringia: "I took part in the theatre workshop at school and really enjoyed it, but I never thought that it could be a profession for me. It was more of a hobby".
She applied to the Ernst Busch Acting Academy in Berlin and was accepted to begin studies in 1996. "It was a very hard regime, but a good preparation for perfecting one's craft as an actor", Hueller says, looking back at her time at Ernst Busch, which she then followed with her first engagement under Claudia Bauer at the Theaterhaus Jena for two years before becoming a member of the ensemble in Basel in 2002.
Since her drama student days, Sandra has made the occasional foray into film acting with parts in short films. "During the theatre's summer breaks I used the time to get some experience working in front of the camera," she explains. "Contact with the filmmakers either came from my agent or through friends who had also worked on student films. I came to Requiem the classic way," Sandra continues. "I was sent the screenplay and met up with Hans-Christian Schmid on several occasions over the summer to talk about the role".
Outsiders viewing this film might think that the work on this film would be particularly harrowing for the actress. "There was no particular scene that posed a special challenge," Hueller observes. "The challenge was always there throughout the whole film, but I remember the shoot as a very pleasant time and with an incredible team of people that Hans-Christian has gathered to work with him on each of his films".
She was also full of praise for young Polish cinematographer Bogumil Godfrejow, who spun around the set with his hand-held camera fixed on the action. "You could always rely on him getting everything," says Hueller. "He is always there, but he didn't impose himself on you the way you sometimes feel with other cameramen. And he was extremely fast and didn't need much time to get the camera set up for the next scene."