In the film, Mirren plays Maria Altmann, an Austrian-American fighting to reclaim her family’s Gustav Klimt paintings - including the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I - stolen by the Nazis during World War Two. Altmann’s lawyer, E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg, is portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.
“Being a part of this film and preserving Maria Altmann’s legacy has been a truly exceptional experience from the start,” Mirren said in a statement. “I am utterly moved to be receiving an award from the World Jewish Congress, an organization that does such important work all over the globe in advocating for Jewish rights.”
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder purchased the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I after its restitution to Altmann by the Austrian government in 2006. It is now on display at the Neue Gallery in New York City.
“The history of the ‘Woman in Gold’ painting exemplifies the immense suffering, painful loss and, for a prolonged period, the injustice that many Jews were subjected to during the 20th century,” added in a statement released by the Weinstein Company. “With the opening of this new movie, audiences can learn about the second half of the Nazi-looted art story: the postwar art grab by governments and museums that willfully continued the Nazi theft, both by hiding the art from the rightful owners or their heirs and by fighting the victims in court to keep the artworks.”
“Thanks to Helen Mirren’s stunning performance, the international public will learn about this legacy of World War II which still hasn’t been addressed properly by many governments and museums.”