BONHOEFFER is a 93-minute documentary film that tells the dramatic story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the young German theologian who offered one of the first clear voices of resistance to Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer openly challenged his church to stand with the Jews in their time of need, and eventually joined his family in the plots to kill Hitler. His books, Cost of Discipleship, Letters and Papers from Prison, and Ethics, were written during the struggle and are considered classics in the world of religion and ethics.
The film, shot on location in Germany and the United States, features interviews with family members, friends, students and associates who knew Bonhoeffer personally, including the last interview given by Bonhoeffer's closest friend and biographer, Eberhard Bethge, and an interview with Ruth Alice von Bismarck, the sister of Bonhoeffer's fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer.
It also features interviews with outstanding historians and theologians including John de Gruchy and Geffrey Kelly, as well as comments from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Extensive research in archives both in Europe and the US yielded extraordinary archival footage, including a speech by Hitler praying for God's blessing on him and the German people and Bonhoeffer family footage that features the only known moving footage of Dietrich. The production team was also given access to never-before-seen personal and family photographs that help bring visual context to Bonhoeffer's life.
Reading for the voice of Bonhoeffer is actor Klaus Maria Brandauer (Out of Africa, Russia House, etc). The film also features an original score by Emmy-award-winner John Keltonic.
"Bonhoeffer is one of the great examples of moral courage in the face of conflict," explains director/writer Martin Doblmeier. "I believe part of the reason the film is getting attention now is because many of the issues Bonhoeffer faced – the role of the church in the modern world, national loyalty and personal conscience, what the call to being a "peacemaker" really means – are issues we continue to struggle with today."
The associate producers for BONHOEFFER are Adele Schmidt, Janna Morishima and Kristin Fellows. The editors are Matthew B. Kelly and Timothy Finkbiner.
BONHOEFFER was released to theaters in June 2003 through First Run Features. It was screened in more than 100 locations nationally and internationally and set individual theater attendance records in Chicago, Minneapolis, Providence and Dallas. The film was awarded the 2004 Gabriel Award, the 2004 Wilbur Award, the 2003 Rhode Island International Film Festival Best Documentary Award and the 2004 Columbus International Film and Video Festival Best Documentary Award. The home video version was released in VHS and DVD and is available through Journey Films' website.
Preceding the theatrical release, BONHOEFFER was screened by more than 100 churches and synagogues in the U.S., England, Australia, and other English-speaking countries.
Major underwriting for BONHOEFFER was provided by The Lilly Endowment. It is a presentation of South Carolina ETV and was broadcast nationally on PBS in a one-hour version on Monday, February 6, 2006.
To Those Who Made This Film Possible...
Our thanks to the underwriters of BONHOEFFER
Major Funding was provided by:
The Lilly Endowment
Additional Funding was provided by:
Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
The Franciscan Friars
RIAS Berlin Commission
Catholic Communication Campaign
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Lehrstuhl Stiftung
Margaret F. Grace
Sarita Kenedy East
Also contributing were:
Stephen & Abby Wise, Gisela Rader, William & Karen Tell, Gary & Lee Blount,
Immanuel Church of Christ, United Church of Christ (Wisconsin Conference), Carl and Catherine Rasmussen, Hubbard Foundation, Lake Edge United Church of Christ, Fred & Louise Trost, Marian Ward, Fred Goldman, John Templeton, James Borklund and Marcia Stavenger
MATTHEW B. KELLY
JOHN KELTONIC, JDK Music
Bonhoeffer: KLAUS MARIA BRANDAUER
Bishop Bell: RICHARD MANCINI
Theatrical Sound Design
Broadcast Sound Design
MATTHEW B. KELLY
SCHIEFFER AND SCHIEFFER TONSTUDIO
BILDARCHIV PREUSSISCHER KULTURBESITZ
BUNDESARCHIV FILMABTEILUNG, BERLIN
ABYSSINIAN BAPTIST CHURCH
EVANGELISCHES ZENTRALARCHIV, BERLIN
ARCHIV DER EVANGELISCHEN KIRCHE IM RHEINLAND
EVANGELISCHE KIRCHE DEUTSCHLAND
EBERHARD AND RENATE BETHGE
GEDENKSTÄTTE DEUTSCHER WIDERSTAND
BONHOEFFER GESELLSCHAFT, WILFRIED SCHULZ
UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM
CHRISTIAN KAISER VERLAG
SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE
MK GANDHI INSTITUTE FOR NONVIOLENCE
THE FRICK COLLECTION
SUEDDEUTSCHER VERLAG BILDERDIENST
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
NATIONAL ARCHIVES & RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
PALACE OF WESTMINISTER
JOHN ALLEN ARCHIVES
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
THE JAMES LUTHER ADAMS FOUNDATION
HORIZON VIDEO PRODUCTION
F. BURTON NELSON
GEFFREY B. KELLY
THE GERMAN LUTHERAN CHURCH
ABYSSINIAN BAPTIST CHOIR
DR. JEWELL THOMPSON
ALLEYNE A.M.E. ZION CHURCH, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL
DEAN NATHAN BAXTER
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER HOTEL, BERLIN
BONHOEFFER HAUS, BERLIN
HARVARD DIVINITY ARCHIVES
BARBARA BAYER-VON DOHNANYI
EVANGELISCHE KIRCHE, RHEINLAND
HANS-CHRISTOPH VON HASE
DON & PEGGY SHRIVER
JOHN W. MATTHEWS
GEYER FILM LABS
Director of Promotion
For South Carolina ETV