When Rosel Zech left us after a long illness on August 31, 2011, this departure came much too early. To pay homage to this Berlin-born actress, the cinema Kurbel in Berlin-Charlottenburg will screen VERONIKA VOSS, one of her strongest and most successful films, in a matinee on October 30 at 11AM (Kurbel 2). Rosel Zech and Rainer Werner Fassbinder were awarded the Golden Bear for VERONIKA VOSS as best film at the 1982 Berlinale. We are honored that the screening will take place in the presence of her 91-year-old mother Helga Zech, Hilmar Thate, and many of her friends.
At the tender age of 19, Rosalie Helga Lina Zech began her stage and acting career in Landshut, Bavaria and in the Swiss town of Solothurn. In 1965, she came to Wuppertal, where she met director Peter Zadek. The encounter turned out to be crucial both personally and for her artistic career. Under his direction, she excelled, among others in the role of Hedda Gabler in Ibsen’s drama. In 1977, she was elected “actress of the year” for her portrayal. Other important directors she collaborated with during her stage career were Hans Neuenfels, Jürgen Gosch, and Jérôme Savary. Among the most outstanding characters she portrayed were the arch-old Polonius in Hamlet, Cordelia in King Lear, and the great Zenobia in the play of the same name.
She once said that she felt more comfortable working with Fassbinder than with any other director. In fact, her first great cinematic success was the latter’s movie VERONIKA VOSS (1981), where she starred alongside Armin Mueller-Stahl and Hilmar Thate, playing the drug-addicted Ufa star Veronika Voss. One of the most sought-after German actresses, Rosel Zech already began working for the German auteur film in 1973. In 1991, she co-starred with K.D. Lang in Percy Adlon’s SALMONBERRIES; the role of Roswitha from East Berlin who lives in Alaska earned her the Bayerischer Filmpreis in 1992.
While Rosel Zech appeared in numerous TV roles, a large audience got to know her as Mother Superior Elisabeth Reuter in the ARD serial UM HIMMELS WILLEN (For Heaven’s Sake), for which she was awarded the Bambi prize. Her last stage role was Dr. Katherine Brandt in 33 Variations by Moisés Kaufman under the direction of Torsten Fischer, where disease steals the fatally ill musicologist Dr. Katherine Brandt’s precious remaining time. Rosel Zech’s time was also devoured, preventing her from portraying strong and vulnerable women on stage and in movies in the future. The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation, her mother, and her friends miss this positive human being, Rosel Zech, who always lived in the here-and-now.
Photo left: Rosel Zech © Ruth Kappus
Photo right: Rosel Zech in RWF’s VERONIKA VOSS, 1981 © RWFF