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Leni Riefenstahl

September 07, 1997

Re "Film Group Honors Leni Riefenstahl," Aug. 31:

I was appalled to read about the honors accorded filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, by Glendale's Cinecon organization. Five members of my family were murdered by the Nazis. I cannot think of a single reason why, with all the talent that abounds in the world of cinema, this particular person had to be singled out for honors.

One can argue, with bogus high-mindedness, that it is the art that counts, blah blah blah. But in this particular case, what else was Riefenstahl's claim to fame, except her infamous film, "Triumph of the Will," whose only purpose was the glorification of Nazism and the Third Reich? Cinecon President Kevin John Charbeneau claims "she fit every aspect" of the group's criteria. Come on, Mr. Charbeneau, you weren't feting her accomplishments as a dancer or actress!

ESTHER V. RUDIS

Los Angeles

*

Why should Leni Riefenstahl, at 95, still have to take the heat for her role in Hitler's regime? She spent four years in Allied prison camps after the war as a "Nazi sympathizer." Surely she paid her dues then. She has continued making art in the 50 years since (plus the decade before Hitler), none of which glorifies fascism.

If "Triumph of the Will" had been a mediocre film, no one would care about Riefenstahl. Since it is a masterpiece, it lives, and we have to deal with it, and with her, the artist, in the same way we need to deal with, say, "The Merchant of Venice" and Shakespeare. Did Shakespeare hate Jews?

Cinecon did a brave and wonderful thing in honoring Riefenstahl for her lifetime of work.

BRAD KAY

Venice

*

If Leni Riefenstahl may be honored for her propaganda films, then I suppose Lee Harvey Oswald could be honored for sharpshooting. Despicable.

DAVID GURNICK

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