Best German Directors

by FargoChris | created - 11 Sep 2011 | updated - 24 Mar 2016 | Public

1. Ernst Lubitsch

Director | To Be or Not to Be

From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at ...

2. Fritz Lang

Director | M

Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. ...

3. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

4. Werner Herzog

Director | Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes

Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has won numerous national and international awards for...

5. F.W. Murnau

Director | Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

He studied art and literature history at the University of Heidelberg. During World War I, he was a combat pilot.

6. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Writer | Faustrecht der Freiheit

Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Openly homosexual, he married twice; one of his wives acted in his films and the other served as his editor. Accused variously by detractors of being anticommunist, male chauvinist, antiSemitic and...

7. Fatih Akin

Director | Gegen die Wand

Fatih Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg of Turkish parentage. He began studying Visual Communications at Hamburg's College of Fine Arts in 1994. His collaboration with Wueste Film also dates from this time. In 1995, he wrote and directed his first short feature, "Sensin - You're The One!" ("Sensin -...

8. Christian Petzold

Director | Phoenix

Christian Petzold was born in Hilden in 1960. After studying German and Drama at the Freie Universität Berlin, he enrolled in Berlin's German Academy for Film and Television (DFFB). There he studied film direction while at same time working as an assistant director to Harun Farocki and Hartmut ...

9. Frank Beyer

Director | Spur der Steine

Director. Writer. Began studying at the FAMU in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1952 where he made his diploma in directing. Since 1958 worked as a director for the east-german production company DEFA. In that time he received numerous decorations for his work. His film Spur der Steine (1966) was ...

10. Andreas Dresen

Director | Halt auf freier Strecke

Andreas Dresen was born on August 16, 1963 in Gera, German Democratic Republic. He is a director and writer, known for Halt auf freier Strecke (2011), Night Shapes (1999) and Halbe Treppe (2002).

11. Leni Riefenstahl

Actress | Das blaue Licht

Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With...

12. Robert Wiene

Director | Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

Robert Wiene was born on April 24, 1873 in Breslau, Silesia, Germany. He was a writer and director, known for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Hands of Orlac (1924) and L'autre (1930). He died on July 17, 1938 in Paris, France.

13. Hans-Christian Schmid

Director | 23

Hans-Christian Schmid was born on August 19, 1965 in Altötting, Bavaria, Germany. He is a director and writer, known for 23 (1998), Storm (2009) and Lichter (2003).

14. Wim Wenders

Director | Der Himmel über Berlin

Wim Wenders is an Oscar-nominated German filmmaker who was born Ernst Wilhelm Wenders on August 14, 1945 in Düsseldorf, which then was located in the British Occupation Zone of what became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany, known colloquially as West Germany until ...

15. Volker Schlöndorff

Director | Die Blechtrommel

Has studied economy and political sciences as well as at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographique (IDHEC) in Paris, France. Worked as an assistant director with Louis Malle, Jean-Pierre Melville and Alain Resnais. Founded his own production company Bioskop Film together with Reinhard Hauff ...

16. Dominik Graf

Director | Dreileben

Dominik Graf was born on September 6, 1952 in Munich, Bavaria, West Germany. He is a director and writer, known for Dreileben (2011), Das zweite Gesicht (1982) and Die Katze (1988).

17. Edgar Reitz

Director | Die Zweite Heimat - Chronik Einer Jugend

Studied theatre science, German philology, art history, and publicism in Munich. Published some poems and short stories during early 1950s, co-edited the literature magazine "Spuren". In 1952, he took acting lessons, co-founded a student theatre which became established as the university's studio ...

18. Douglas Sirk

Director | Schlußakkord

Film director Douglas Sirk, whose reputation blossomed in the generation after his 1959 retirement from Hollywood filmmaking, was born Hans Detlef Sierck on April 26, 1897, in Hamburg, Germany, to a journalist. Both of his parents were Danish, and the future director would make movies in German, ...

19. Caroline Link

Director | Nirgendwo in Afrika

Caroline Link was born on June 2, 1964 in Bad Nauheim, Hesse, Germany. She is a director and writer, known for Nirgendwo in Afrika (2001), Beyond Silence (1996) and Annaluise & Anton (1999).

20. Walter Ruttmann

Cinematographer | Metropolis

Walter Ruttmann was born on December 28, 1887 in Frankfurt-on-Main, Germany as Friedrich Wilhelm Walter Ruttmann. He was a director and writer, known for Metropolis (1927), Mannesmann - Ein Film der Mannesmannröhren-Werke (1937) and Acciaio (1933). He was married to Christine Margarete Helene ...

21. Helmut Dietl

Writer | Rossini

Helmut Dietl was born on June 22, 1944 in Bad Wiessee, Bavaria, Germany. He was a writer and director, known for Rossini (1997), Schtonk (1992) and Münchner Geschichten (1974). He was married to Tamara Duve, Barbara Valentin and Karin Dietl-Wichmann. He died on March 30, 2015 in Munich, ...

22. Tom Tykwer

Composer | Lola rennt

Director, writer, producer and composer Tom Tykwer was born in 1965 in Wuppertal, Germany. He showed an interest in film-making from childhood, making super 8 films from the age of 11. Among his first jobs was working at a local art-house cinema. Tykwer eventually relocated to Berlin, first working...

23. Mike Nichols

Director | The Graduate

He, along with the other members of the "Compass Players" including Elaine May, Paul Sills, Byrne Piven, Joyce Hiller Piven and Edward Asner helped start the famed "Second City Improv" company. They used the games taught to them by fellow cast mate, Paul Sills 's mother, Viola Spolin. He later ...

Born in Berlin ;-)

24. Marc Forster

Producer | World War Z

Marc Forster is a German-born filmmaker and screenwriter. He is best known for directing the films Monster's Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004), Stay (2005), Stranger than Fiction (2006), The Kite Runner (2007), Quantum of Solace (2008), and World War Z (2013).

His breakthrough film was Monster's...

25. Marcus H. Rosenmüller

Director | Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot

Marcus H. Rosenmüller was born on July 21, 1973 in Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany as Marcus Heinrich Rosenmüller. He is a director and writer, known for Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot (2006), Kümmel und Korn (2000) and Die Perlmutterfarbe (2009).

26. Leander Haußmann

Director | Sonnenallee

Leander Haußmann was born on June 26, 1959 in Quedlinburg, German Democratic Republic. He is an actor and director, known for Sun Alley (1999), Herr Lehmann (2003) and Hotel Lux (2011).

27. Wolfgang Becker

Director | Good Bye Lenin!

Director. Cinematographer. Writer. Studied germanistics, history and americanistics in film, Berlin, Germany. Studied at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie (DFFB) in Berlin, Germany.

28. Helmut Käutner

Director | Der Hauptmann von Köpenick

Helmut Käutner was born on March 25, 1908 in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany as Paul Günther Helmut Käutner. He was a director and writer, known for The Captain from Köpenick (1956), Die letzte Brücke (1954) and The Rest Is Silence (1959). He was married to Erica Balqué. He ...

29. Maren Ade

Producer | Toni Erdmann

Maren Ade was born in Karlsruhe on 12 December 1976 to a couple of teachers.She studied cinema at Munich's Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film. As of 2001 she co-founded, together with Janine Jackowski, a fellow graduate from HFF, the "Komplizen" film company. It is through Komplizen that Maren would...

30. Joe May

Director | The Invisible Man Returns

A businessman and operetta director, Joe May, one of the founders of the German cinema, started directing films in 1911 and started his own production company a few years later. He gave famous German director Fritz Lang his start in films, employing him as a screenwriter in his early films. After ...

31. Kurt Hoffmann

Director | Das Wirtshaus im Spessart

Kurt Hoffmann was born on November 12, 1910 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany as Kurt Bertrand Paul Hoffmann. He was a director and assistant director, known for Das Wirtshaus im Spessart (1958), The Haunted Castle (1960) and Confessions of Felix Krull (1957). He was married to ...

32. Wolfgang Petersen

Director | Das Boot

This director seems to shine most when making movies that can best be described as part action movies/part disaster movies.

Beginning with Outbreak (1995) about the outbreak of a killer virus. This film had shades of an Irwin Allen disaster movie, The Swarm (1978), about the outbreak of killer bees....

33. Alexander Kluge

Director | Abschied von gestern - (Anita G.)

Writer. Director. Producer. Studied law and graduated. Was one of the founders of the Oberhausener Manifest in 1962. Since 1962 Headmaster of the 'Institut fuer Filmgestaltung' at the 'Hochschule fuer Gestaltung' in Ulm, Germany. Since 1988 produces broadcastings dealing with cultural aspects in ...

34. Hans W. Geissendörfer

Writer | Lindenstraße

Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied germanistics, theatre, psychology and african languages between 1962 and 1967. Has travelled Africa and Asia. In 1971 co-founder of the german Filmverlag der Autoren. 1983 he founded his own production company. Geissendoerfer is producer and partly director ...

35. Detlev Buck

Director | Same Same But Different

Directed his first movie at the age of 21. Studied at the 'Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie' (DFFB) til 1989. Founded the Boje Buck Filmproduktion in 1991. Founded the Boje Buck Produktion GmbH together with Claus Boje in 1992.

36. Doris Dörrie

Writer | Kirschblüten - Hanami

Doris Dörrie was born on May 26, 1955 in Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany. She is a writer and director, known for Kirschblüten - Hanami (2008), Men... (1985) and Grüße aus Fukushima (2016). She was previously married to Helge Weindler.

37. Oskar Roehler

Writer | Die Unberührbare

Oskar Roehler was born on January 21, 1959 in Starnberg, Bavaria, Germany. He is a writer and director, known for Die Unberührbare (2000), Agnes and His Brothers (2004) and Silvester Countdown (1997). He has been married to Alexandra Fischer-Roehler since August 2000.

38. Rosa von Praunheim

Director | Anita: Tänze des Lasters

Rosa von Praunheim was born on November 25, 1942 in Riga, Latvia as Holger Bernhard Bruno Mischwitzky. He is a director and writer, known for Anita: Tänze des Lasters (1987), Horror Vacui (1984) and Neurosia: Fifty Years of Perversion (1995). He was previously married to Carla Egerer.

39. Margarethe von Trotta

Director | Hannah Arendt

Margarethe von Trotta was born in Berlin in 1942. In the 1960s she moved to Paris where she worked for film collectives, collaborating on scripts and co-directing short films. She also pursued an acclaimed acting career, starring in films by well known German directors such as Rainer Werner ...

40. Christian Schwochow

Director | Die Unsichtbare

Christian Schwochow was born on September 23, 1978 in Bergen auf Rügen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. He is a director and writer, known for Die Unsichtbare (2011), Novemberkind (2008) and Mitten in Deutschland: NSU (2016).

41. Oliver Hirschbiegel

Director | Das Experiment

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1957. In his teens he left high school and worked as a cooker in a boat.

Then he studied painting and graphism in the Academy of arts in Hamburg where he also started experimenting with video and photography. Those experimental movies attracted the attention of some ...

42. Peter Schamoni

Director | Die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie

Peter Schamoni was born on March 27, 1934 in Berlin, Germany. He was a director and producer, known for Die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie (1967), Schonzeit für Füchse (1966) and Max Ernst: Mein Vagabundieren - Meine Unruhe (1991). He died on June 14, 2011 in Munich, Bavaria...

43. Roland Suso Richter

Director | Der Tunnel

Roland Suso Richter was born on January 7, 1961 in Marburg, Hesse, Germany. He is a director and production manager, known for Der Tunnel (2001), Eine Hand Voll Gras (2000) and Sara Amerika (1999).

44. Nico Hofmann

Producer | Land der Väter, Land der Söhne

Nico Hofmann was born to journalist parents in Heidelberg in December 1959. Since 1998 he served as producer and Chairman of the board of teamWorx, one of Germany's most suc-cessful production companies. Over the last 15 years numerous well-known TV and film awards as well as national and ...

45. Aelrun Goette

Director | Unter dem Eis

Aelrun Goette was born on July 6, 1966 in Berlin, Germany. She is a director and writer, known for Unter dem Eis (2005), Unter Verdacht (2002) and Tatort (1970).

46. Robert Schwentke

Director | RED

Robert Schwentke was born in 1968 in Stuttgart, Germany. He is a director and writer, known for RED (2010), Tattoo (2002) and R.I.P.D. (2013).

47. Florian Gallenberger

Director | Quiero ser (I want to be...)

Florian Gallenberger was born in 1972 in Munich, Germany. His first film experience was as a child actor. He studied philosophy before he went to Munich Film School HFF where he made several award winning live action short films. He won a Student Academy Award and an Academy Award for his ...

48. Max Ophüls

Director | La ronde

Director Max Ophüls was born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrücken, Germany. He began his career as a stage actor and director in the golden twenties. He worked in cities such as Stuttgart, Dortmund, Wuppertal, Vienna, Frankfurt, Breslau and Berlin. In 1929 his son Marcel Ophüls was born in Frankfurt, ...

49. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Director | Das Leben der Anderen

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was born on May 2, 1973 in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany as Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck. He is a director and writer, known for The Lives of Others (2006), The Tourist (2010) and Dobermann (1999). He is married to ...

50. Henry Koster

Director | Harvey

Henry Koster was born Herman Kosterlitz in Berlin, Germany, on May 1, 1905. His maternal grandfather was a famous operatic tenor Julius Salomon (who died of tuberculosis in the 1880s). His father was a salesman of ladies unmentionables who left the family while Henry was at a young age, leaving him...

51. Benjamin Heisenberg

Writer | Der Räuber

Benjamin Heisenberg was born in 1974 in Tübingen, Germany. He grew up in small village near Würzburg where his father was professor of neurobiology at the local university. After finishing school in 1993 he went to study at the academy of fine arts in Munich. In 1995 he became assistant of Walther ...

52. Kilian Riedhof

Director | Homevideo

Kilian Riedhof was born on April 27, 1971 in Seeheim-Jugenheim, Hesse, Germany. He is a director and writer, known for Homevideo (2011), Riekes Liebe (2001) and Sein letztes Rennen (2013). He has been married to Jana Voosen since 2014.

53. Matthias Glasner

Director | Der freie Wille

Matthias Glasner was born on January 20, 1965 in Hamburg, Germany. He is a director and writer, known for Der freie Wille (2006), Die Mediocren (1995) and Sexy Sadie (1996).

54. Helge Schneider

Actor | 00 Schneider - Jagd auf Nihil Baxter

Helge Schneider was born on August 30, 1955 in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. He is an actor, known for 00 Schneider - Jagd auf Nihil Baxter (1994), 00 Schneider - Im Wendekreis der Eidechse (2013) and Texas - Doc Snyder hält die Welt in Atem (1993).