Famous German Directors

Find out more about the greatest German Film Directors, including Christoph Waltz, Werner Herzog, Roland Emmerich, Leni Riefenstahl and Wim Wenders

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite German Directors

 1 
Werner Herzog
(Film director)

Werner Herzog
5
Birthdate: September 5, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Werner Herzog, one of the prominent figures of the New German Cinema era, has directed films such as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, and documentaries such as Grizzly Man. Named to TIME 100, he has written countless books and directed many operas. He was also seen playing The Client in The Mandalorian.

 2 

Christoph Waltz
7
Birthdate: October 4, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Christoph Waltz is best known for his Academy Award-winning performances as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds and Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained, both by Quentin Tarantino. Waltz had begun as a stage and TV actor in Germany. Some of his other notable projects are Spectre and Big Eyes.

 3 
LeVar Burton
(Actor known for his Roles in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Reading Rainbow")

LeVar Burton
8
Birthdate: February 16, 1957
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Landstuhl, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Best known for his performances as Kunta Kinte in Roots and Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, LeVar Burton is also known for his 23-year stint as the award-winning host of Reading Rainbow. Though he initially aspired to be a Catholic priest, he doesn’t believe in any religion anymore.

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 4 
Leni Riefenstahl
(Film Director)

Leni Riefenstahl
4
Birthdate: August 22, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 8, 2003

Leni Riefenstahl was a German film director and actress best remembered for her role in producing Nazi propaganda. She made her directorial debut in 1932, becoming one of the few women to direct a movie during the Weimar Period. Riefenstahl is credited with directing two of the most technically innovative propaganda films of all time, Olympia and Triumph des Willens.

 5 
Roland Emmerich
(Director Best Known as 'Master of Disaster' for His Science Fiction and Disaster Films)

Roland Emmerich
5
Birthdate: November 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
German director/producer Roland Emmerich is best known for his blockbuster disaster/war films such as The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot. The LGBT activist is also openly gay. He is also an avid art collector. He has also worked for women’s rights and environmental causes.

 6 
William Wyler
(Film director)

William Wyler
3
Birthdate: July 1, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mulhouse, France
Died: July 27, 1981

 7 
Til Schweiger
(German Actor and the Country’s Most Successful Director)

Til Schweiger
5
Birthdate: December 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Til Schweiger is a German actor, filmmaker, and voice actor. Apart from playing important roles in German films, Schweiger has also appeared in several American films, such as Investigating Sex, King Arthur, and Already Dead. Til Schweiger is credited with establishing a production company named Barefoot Films.

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 8 
F. W. Murnau
(Film director)

F. W. Murnau
2
Birthdate: December 28, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bielefeld, Germany
Died: March 11, 1931

F. W. Murnau was a German film director best remembered for directing the 1922 silent horror film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, which is widely regarded as a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. He also made Hollywood films like Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, which is often counted among the best movies ever made by critics and film directors.

 9 
Ernst Lubitsch
(Film director)

Ernst Lubitsch
2
Birthdate: January 29, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: November 30, 1947

 10 
Michael Haneke
(Film director, Screenwriter, Writer, University teacher)

Michael Haneke
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich

Award-winning Austrian film director and screenwriter Michael Haneke, who teaches film direction at the Film Academy Vienna, is best-known for films like The Piano Teacher, Caché, The White Ribbon and Amour. Haneke has made films in English, French and German, and mostly deals with subjects that examine social issues and portrays feelings of individuals facing social alienation in modern society.

 11 
Uwe Boll
(Film director)

Uwe Boll
6
Birthdate: June 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wermelskirchen, Germany
German filmmaker Uwe Boll has faced a lot of backlash for his supposedly poor-quality films, many of which have been crowdfunded. The Golden Raspberry Award-winning director has now moved on to the restaurant business and has also inspired the documentary F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story

 12 
Wolfgang Petersen
(Film director, Film producer, Screenwriter)

Wolfgang Petersen
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Emden

Wolfgang Petersen is a German film producer, director, and screenwriter. One of the most popular and critically acclaimed German filmmakers of all time, Petersen is credited with directing successful films like In the Line of Fire, Troy, and Outbreak. His 1981 West German war film Das Boot earned him two Academy Award nominations.

 13 
Wim Wenders
(Film director)

Wim Wenders
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany

Wim Wenders is a German filmmaker and playwright. He is considered to be a major figure in New German Cinema.  Buena Vista Social Club and Pina are among his best-known works. He has received three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Besides filmmaking, he is also active as a photographer and has published several books. 

 14 
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
(Prominent Figure and Catalyst of the New German Cinema Movement)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Died: June 10, 1982

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a German actor, filmmaker, and playwright. He grew up in the aftermath of World War II and had a tough childhood. He sought solace by watching films and took acting lessons. He began his career in theater and eventually entered films as well. He is considered a prominent figure of the New German Cinema movement. 

 15 
Marc Forster
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer)

Marc Forster
4
Birthdate: November 30, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Illertissen, Germany

 16 
Tom Tykwer
(Best Known as the Director of Films: 'Run Lola Run', 'Heaven' and 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer')

Tom Tykwer
2
Birthdate: May 23, 1965
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wuppertal, Germany

Tom Tykwer is a German film producer, director, composer, and screenwriter. Tykwer is best known for directing thriller films like Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and Run Lola Run. The recipient of three Bavarian Film Awards, Tom Tykwer is also known for co-creating the popular German TV series Babylon Berlin.

 17 

Oskar Fischinger
2
Birthdate: June 22, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: elnhausen, Germany
Died: January 31, 1967

German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter Oskar Fischinger is most-noted for creating abstract musical animation decades before development of computer graphics. Among the 50 short films he made, the short animated film Motion Painting No. 1 is listed on the United States National Film Registry. He also created special effects for the German sci-fi silent film Woman in the Moon.

 18 
Lotte Reiniger
(Director)

Lotte Reiniger
2
Birthdate: June 2, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin-Charlottenburg, German Empire
Died: June 19, 1981

Lotte Reiniger was a German film director best remembered for making animated films. A pioneer of silhouette animation, Reiniger is credited with directing The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which is the oldest surviving feature-length animated film. Lotte Reiniger is also credited with devising the first form of a multiplane camera. 

 19 
I. Marlene King
(Screenwriter)

I. Marlene King
2
Birthdate: May 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Regensburg, Germany

I. Marlene King is a German film director, producer, and writer. Also known for her contribution to the TV industry, King is best known for executive producing the popular American teen drama mystery thriller series Pretty Little Liars.

 20 
Paul Bern
(Film director)

Paul Bern
2
Birthdate: December 3, 1889
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wandsbek, Germany
Died: September 5, 1932

Filmmaker and producer Paul Bern was the man behind the launch of American sex symbol Jean Harlow. He, unfortunately, died of a gunshot wound only 2 months after his marriage to Bern, which gave rise to numerous theories, one of them being suicide. The handwritten suicide not found was not conclusive.

 21 
Cosima Wagner
(Composer)

Cosima Wagner
2
Birthdate: December 24, 1837
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bellagio, Italy
Died: April 1, 1930

 22 
Lexi Alexander
(Film director)

Lexi Alexander
2
Birthdate: August 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany

 23 

Maria Schrader
2
Birthdate: September 27, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hanover, West Germany

 24 
Fatih Akın
(Director)

Fatih Akın
2
Birthdate: August 25, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hamburg

 25 

Martin Wuttke
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, Germany

 26 
Robert Schwentke
(screenwriter, film director)

Robert Schwentke
2
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Stuttgart

 27 
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
(Film director, Screenwriter)

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
2
Birthdate: May 2, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cologne

 28 
Hito Steyerl
(Filmmaker)

Hito Steyerl
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

 29 
Thea von Harbou
(Screenwriter)

Thea von Harbou
2
Birthdate: December 27, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tauperlitz, Döhlau, Germany
Died: July 1, 1954

 30 
Jeremy Podeswa
(screenwriter, film director, television director)

Jeremy Podeswa
2
Birthdate: 1962 AD
Birthplace: Toronto

 31 

Ulrich Mühe
2
Birthdate: June 20, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Grimma, Germany
Died: July 22, 2007

 32 
Max Ophüls
(Film Director)

Max Ophüls
2
Birthdate: May 6, 1902
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saarbrücken, Germany
Died: March 26, 1957

 33 
Dean Reed
(Actor)

Dean Reed
2
Birthdate: September 22, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States
Died: June 13, 1986

 34 

Gustav Frohlich
2
Birthdate: March 21, 1902
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hanover Hannover, Germany
Died: December 22, 1987

 35 
Marcus Nispel
(film director)

Marcus Nispel
2
Birthdate: April 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt

 36 
Paul Verhoeven
(Actor, Director)

Paul Verhoeven
2
Birthdate: June 23, 1901
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Unna, Germany
Died: March 22, 1975

 37 
Anna Foerster
(Cinematographer)

Anna Foerster
2
Birthdate: 1971 AD
Birthplace: Germany

Anna Foerster is a cinematographer and director. She began her career in the 1990s as a second unit cinematographer. She often collaborates with director Roland Emmerich and has worked with him on several films. Independence Day and Godzilla are among her best-known works as a cinematographer. She made her directorial debut with the horror film Underworld: Blood Wars. 

 38 
Nora Fingscheidt
(Film director)

Nora Fingscheidt
1
Birthdate: February 17, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Braunschweig, Germany

 39 
Thor Freudenthal
(Special effects artist best known for his work on Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters)

Thor Freudenthal
2
Birthdate: October 20, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: West Berlin, Germany

 40 

Volker Schlöndorff
2
Birthdate: March 31, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wiesbaden, Germany

German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, a Sorbonne alumnus, excelled in philosophy and political science in college, though he later focused on film studies. Starting his career as an assistant director, he later became a significant figure of the New German Cinema movement and also won an Academy Award for The Tin Drum.

 41 
Christian Petzold
(film director, screenwriter)

Christian Petzold
1
Birthdate: September 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hilden

 42 
Oliver Hirschbiegel
(Film director)

Oliver Hirschbiegel
1
Birthdate: December 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany

 43 
Robert Siodmak
(Film Director)

Robert Siodmak
1
Birthdate: August 8, 1900
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dresden, German Empire
Died: March 10, 1973

Robert Siodmak was a German film director best remembered for a series of stylish Hollywood films noirs he made in the mid-20th century. He began making silent films in the late 1920s. He moved to Paris following the rise of Nazism in Germany and thrived there. He later shifted to USA and found great success in Hollywood. 

 44 

Natja Brunckhorst
1
Birthdate: September 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

 45 

Helmut Griem
1
Birthdate: April 6, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: November 19, 2004

 46 
Margarethe von Trotta
(Film director)

Margarethe von Trotta
1
Birthdate: February 21, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

 47 
Uta Briesewitz
(Cinematographer)

Uta Briesewitz
1
Birthdate: September 1, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Leverkusen, Germany

 48 
Veit Harlan
(Director)

Veit Harlan
1
Birthdate: September 22, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: April 13, 1964

 49 

Heinz Rühmann
1
Birthdate: March 7, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Essen, Germany
Died: October 3, 1994

 50 
Uli Edel
(Film director)

Uli Edel
1
Birthdate: April 11, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Neuenburg am Rhein