German series ‘The Empress’ wins International Emmy Award – DW – 11/21/2023

During her lifetime Empress Elisabeth of Austria was considered the most beautiful woman in Europe. After she was stabbed and died 125 years ago, she became a legend, with her story often adapted into films. One of the latest productions is Netflix’s German historical drama “The Empress,”  which tells the story of her early life and which picked up an International Emmy for best drama series on November 20.

Wild celebrations

The series, which also looks at the famous love story between Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth von Wittelsbach popularly known as Sisi, competed against productions from South Korea, Argentina and the United Kingdom. After their victory, the series team together with author Katharina Eyssen and producer Jochen Laube cheered wildly for minutes in front of the global press.

“It’s surreal,” Eyssen told the German Press Agency, dpa, saying she couldn’t believe the success of her series. She added that the emotions and dynamics of the family story of “The Empress” was what most probably fascinated the audience and jury.

Sisi in a wedding gown.
‘The Empress’ tells the story of the early life of Austro-Hungarian Empress SisiImage: Netflix/dpa/picture alliance

‘A rebellious young woman’

“The depth of characters convinced people. This story is not about a princess marrying a king. It’s about a rebellious young woman,” said Eyssen in her acceptance speech.  

“We are incredibly honored,” Laube said after receiving the award. The entire team put their hearts into the making and is now delighted with the great success, especially in view of the “clever, likable and extremely eloquent competition.” According to Laube, more than 100 million people worldwide have watched at least parts of the series. A second season is now in the works.

First nomination for DW documentary 

Three other German nominees — all of them dealing with Germany’s Nazi past — were also in the running at the International Emmys but came away empty-handed.  

Historical photograph showing an orchestra standing next to a swastika flag.
The DW documentary ‘Classical Music under the Swastika’ by Christian Berger was also nominated for the International Emmy AwardImage: DW

Among them was the DW documentary “Classical Music under the Swastika” that shows why classical music was so important to Hitler and the Nazis. The film’s two main characters represent musical life under the Nazis in very different ways: Star conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler made a pact with the Nazis, while the Jewish cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch survived in a concentration camp thanks to her musical talent.

It was the first DW production to be nominated at the International Emmy Awards. The documentary lost in the category “Best Cultural Program” against a Canadian documentary about actress and singer Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Music under the swastika

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Another German production titled “Nazi Hunters” competed with the documentary “Mariupol: The People’s Story” about the fate of the war victims in Ukraine. “Meet Anne Frank” lost out to nature series “Built to Survive” under the category best non-fiction program for children.

The International Emmy Award is a television prize presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences as part of the Emmy Awards. The award, which honors the best television programs produced and broadcast outside the United States each year, is considered one of the most important television awards worldwide.

kt/bh (dpa/KNA)


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