Leni Riefenstahl, known for propaganda films that glorified the Third Reich, becomes the longest working director in the history of the cinema with this summer’s release of Impressions Under Water. Coinciding with her 100th birthday in August, the 45-minute film is culled from footage of Riefenstahl’s dives in the Indian Ocean between 1974 and 2000 and is her first film release in 50 years.
Riefenstahl started out as a dancer and appeared in several feature films before becoming a filmmaker in her own right. She came to prominence in the 1930s after approaching Adolf Hitler to offer her services as a filmmaker. Riefenstahl was commissioned to make three films during the Third Reich, the most notorious of which was Triumph of the Will, about the 1934 Nazi rally at Nuremberg.
Never a member of the Nazi party herself, Riefenstahl was nonetheless seen as a pariah for many years. She has since tried to distance herself from her Nazi connections and has made a name for herself as an accomplished photographer.