Judging by the look of her face, she definitely is her mother’s daughter. Her mother is Maria Schell (1926-2005), actress and star of movies such as “The Brothers Karamazov” alongside Yul Brynner, or “The Hanging Tree” with Gary Cooper. Marie Theres Kroetz Relin (1966), who made camp in Tenerife almost 15 years ago, has gotten used to not only being compared with the “blonde angel”, but also with the rest of her family of artists. At the age of 17, she made her screen debut in “Secret Places”.
She also starred in the short film “Drei D” and a number of different German TV movies, which earned her the Goldene Kamera Award for Best New Actress in 1987. At 21, the daughter of director Veit Relin got married to the German playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz, with whom she has three children. From that point on, she stayed clear of the limelight, focused on her family and found a whole new facet of literature for herself. Currently, she works on a musical project (dixiemania.com) set on Tenerife, the island she chose due to “medical reasons” and that has been growing on her ever since.
“I like the emotional balance I’ve found here. The life I lead on Tenerife is different from the one in Bavaria, and a combination of both is what it makes it extra-special”, says Marie Theres, renowned for her fighting spirit.
What memories do you have of your mother?
The things I remember are all marvellous. My mother was a woman who loved what she was doing. I remember her bringing me along to all the shootings, I practically lived on the set and really enjoyed it. The one thing that was hard for me was the time I couldn’t spend with her, when she went away to work. Being a career woman comes with a price, but she nevertheless was a great mother.
In your opinion, has the cinema changed much lately?
The cinema of today has first and foremost a commercial function; it’s all about quantity and less about quality. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no good movies out there. But six months long shootings in the manner of Luchino Visconti, who directed “White Nights” (1957), with especially built settings and the whole works, are very rare.
Is it correct to state then, that aestheticism, the wardrobe, the media attention etc. have become the main points?
Undoubtedly, money plays the lead in making movies, also because of the Americanization of the cinema. Still, there are some artists left, great ones, who don’t stop fighting for their dreams. They and their exceptional skills pop up here and there, but mostly outside of the realms of Hollywood.
Has this atmosphere also left its mark on you?
I don’t repudiate my roots, nor do I want to. I am me, even if some people will always only see me as the daughter of Maria Schell, and I do understand that they will keep comparing me with her. I guess that’s how fame works. The influence my parents had on me is great, yet it isn’t the only one. We have a long artistic tradition in our family, of which I’m very proud. In fact, I even wrote a book about this matter which hasn’t been published yet. By all means, I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this extraordinary family of artists, whose next generation – my children – is at the ready. And extraordinary is also the relationship with my ex-husband Franz Xaver Kroetz.
What triggered your decision to drop out of the public eye?
I deliberately decided to stay at home and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the family I was raising. Maybe also because I knew how hard it was to reconcile both career and family life. That being said, remember that being a mother of three is a 24/7 job!
Are you planning on returning to the big screen?
I guess it’s going to be difficult (smiles)… I live on Tenerife, far away from receptions, dinner parties, presentations and shootings. And if you’re not around all the time, people will forget about you very quickly. The only thing that can really bring you up for discussion again is a role that stands out from the crowd.
Why did you make Tenerife your home?
Medical reasons. My children’s asthma vanished as soon as we got here, so we stayed. I like the emotional balance I’ve found here. The life I lead on Tenerife is different from the one in Bavaria, and a combination of both is what it makes it extra-special.
What about your search for tranquillity and quietude?
I have three children, there’s no such thing as tranquillity and quietude. We have a comfortable and good life, without TV sets, and my children are practically Canarios. Personally, I prefer to spend my free time by reading, writing and above all with music. Investing in culture means making a gift to your imagination.
How did your access to the world of literature come about?
One day, I got myself a computer. I didn’t have any idea how the internet and everything that comes with it worked. I started writing about housewives, their problems, their sacrifices, and the lack of appreciation for them – after all, they play an important part in our society as well. Then I launched “The Housewives’ Revolution”, a website, which turned out to be a great success with more than seven million visitors, and which was the basis for my bestselling book.
What are your thoughts on the debate about online piracy and copyrights?
It is a problem, but unfortunately we can’t really do anything about it. You always have to keep in mind that one of your brainchildren might be copied or stolen, so try to protect your work the best way you can. Musicians, for example, now earn more money by playing concerts than selling their actual discs, which often leak online or are bootlegged.
Do you consider yourself a fighter?
Persistent, vigorous, impulsive… When I set my mind on something, I don’t rest until my plans are carried out. My mother also was a fighter. Yet, you could always see a touch of sensibility and vulnerability in her face; qualities that she has passed on to me.
How did your collaboration with the Alabama Dixieland Jazz Band start?
I love Dixieland Jazz, a music genre fairly known in Germany, England and the United States. When I heard the Alabama Dixieland Jazz Band play for the first time, it was clear to me that I wanted them for my new project, the Dixiemania.
Marie Theres Kroetz Relin, daughter of legendary actress Maria Schell, currently works on the project Dixiemania.com, which focuses on the connection between the Canary Islands and the New Orleans Dixie sound. Also part of the project is the Alabama Dixieland Jazz Band, who are in the process of recording their first album. “I’m neither a historian nor a jazz expert, and much less ‘canaria’, but the stories and facts about Alcide “Yellow“ Nuñez, a founding member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band with Canarian roots, have never ceased to amaze me. Dixieland Jazz makes you happy and is a part of Tenerife”, says Marie Theres Kroetz Relin, adding that “Tenerife-based artists and talents need more support”. At the moment, she writes the script to the Dixiemania revue “and I think the show will be an interesting opportunity to call people’s attention to talents like Juan Carlos León ‘Mosco’, who beautifully arranged Canarian folk songs and adapted them to Dixieland Jazz. I hope for support from the island’s government, since Dixiemania could become a great tourist attraction.”
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