The Drowned Girl / Key Facts
“You ask about Jud Süss.” – The Drowned Girl
The Drowned Girl is a tale of complicity – and why it is such an essential element in how evil takes root in the world and spreads into the fiber of our society. Set largely in Nazi film industry of the 1930s and 1940s, it is also a tale of how art can be perverted and deployed in the service of genocide and destruction.
In our film, a once-famous starlet of Nazi film returns as a water spirit (or Nixie) seeking redemption. Will she grapple at last with her toxic legacy – or remain condemned to her watery oblivion?
The spirit who reemerges from the depths is Kristina Söderbaum. She rocketed to fame in 1937 as the star of Jugend –a film directed by Veit Harlan.
Söderbaum and Harlan later married. She was the star of virtually every film he made between 1937 and 1944 as one of the Third Reich’s most popular directors. Among these films was one of the most notorious films of the 20th Century: Jud Süss.
The virulent antisemitism at the core of Jud Süss makes the film an abhorrent propaganda exercise. Indeed, it was intended as such, under the guise of “entertainment.” Millions of people watched in across Europe in the early 1940s.
Jud Süss is also a moral abyss. And Harlan was tried twice after World War II for “crimes against humanity” for making the film. He was acquitted both times.
Harlan and Joseph Goebbels – chief Nazi propagandist – were architects of Jud Süss and other agitprop horrors, including The Golden City and Kolberg. But The Drowned Girl explores the role that those who worked in Nazi films played in making them happen.
The mechanics of making a film such as Jud Süss were no different than creating almost any film. Yet what emerged from that endeavor was a unique horror.
In European folklore, Nixies often take human form and try to lure those who listen back down into the depths. What can the spirit of the famous “drowned girl” of Third Reich cinema tell us about the necessity of complicity to make evil happen?
A once-famous starlet of Nazi film is condemned to haunt the waters of a tortured afterlife. In folklore, such water spirits often reemerge in human form to lure us back into the depths with them. Can the famous “drowned girl” of the Third Reich cinema find redemption by retelling her tale of complicity with evil – or remain banished in her watery oblivion?
A once-famous starlet of Nazi film returns as a water spirit (or Nixie) seeking redemption. Will she grapple at last with her toxic legacy – or remain condemned to her watery oblivion?
Runtime: 1 hour 10 minutes 02 seconds
Shooting Format: HD
Film Color: Color
Completion Date: July 14, 2023
Production Budget: 22,000 USD
Country of Filming: United States
Locations: Triad Theatre (Manhattan); Popsicle Studios (Brooklyn); Art Factory (Paterson, NJ); Tiber Island Cooperative Homes (Washington, DC); William J. Brennan Court House (Jersey City, NJ)