It is not only Christmas that is just around the corner but also the birthday of one of the most important figures in the Fassbinder cosmos. On 25 December Hanna Schygulla will turn 75, and we would like to warmly congratulate her on reaching this milestone. Along with early work with the Action-Theater and the Antiteater ensembles, Schygulla’s collaboration with Fassbinder included twenty films made between 1969 and 1980.
Following Fassbinder’s death she worked with other directors, such as Jean-Luc Godard, Ettore Scola, Carlos Saura, Marco Ferreri and, later, Béla Tarr and Fatih Akin. Her most recent role was in Cédric Khan’s moving drama exploring the theme of faith, LA PRIÈRE (2018), in which she plays the nun Myriam, who not only treats the film’s difficult young men with maternal gentleness but also confronts them with the harsh rigidities of an authoritarian church. Apart from pursuing her career as an actress, Schygulla has been touring the world as a singer of chansons since the 1990s – some of the lyrics of which come from texts by Fassbinder.
In an interview with SZ-Magazin in 2013, when she was asked whether it bothered her to be constantly asked about RWF, she responded: “Rainer had a decisive influence on my life; without him and the hidden love between us, the actress Hanna Schygulla would not have existed. We both sensed that we were meant for each other without having that much in common. I have now lived twice as long as he did and I’m playing a small part in continuing his legacy. It’s wonderful to know he continues to live through me.” (The entire interview is available in German at: https://sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de/kino-film-theater/ich-fand-immer-alle-schoener-als-mich-79986)
On 23 November the Bavarian author, director and painter Herbert Achternbusch turned 80. A celebration of his career by the Munich Film Museum is now being followed by a comprehensive retrospective of his provocative and anarchic work at the Leipzig cinema Luru Kino in der Spinnerei, which runs till the end of May (the program is available at: http://www.luru-kino.de/?page_id=3259). Achternbusch is a passionate fan of classic Hollywood cinema and can be equally vehement when it comes to judging his fellow German filmmakers. Although associated with New German Cinema, Achternbusch, like Fassbinder, remained on the periphery of the movement due to his very individual aesthetic – and it may be for this reason that he particularly appreciated RWF’s work.
In the wake of Fassbinder’s death Achternbusch dedicated his film DER DEPP (THE FOOL, 1982) to his fellow filmmaker. In an obituary in the Süddeutsche Zeitung he recalled his last encounter with RWF: “I only saw Fassbinder three times. The last time was at the Munich Food Market, which he entered at high speed as if he needed to be seen and at the same time forgotten. He was wearing jeans and a tight shirt, and of course he was smoking. I turned towards him. He seemed to me like a grandpa going about his daily business. I would have happily drunk a beer with him, but it didn’t seem appropriate. He looked to me like someone you weren’t supposed to stop.”
Another anniversary is being marked by the exhibition “68. Pop and Protest” in Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. Using musical and spatial installations, fashion, films, photographs, posters, design objects and historical documents, the exhibition aims to reflect the revolutionary atmosphere of 1968. Films shown in the context of the exhibition include Fassbinder’s KATZELMACHER (1969). More information can be found at: https://www.mkg-hamburg.de/de/ausstellungen/aktuell/68-pop-und-protest.html
Our congratulations to the dramatist and director Falk Richter, whom the French Ministry of Culture has made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s most important cultural awards. Richter’s most recent work is the play “Je suis Fassbinder,” the text of which can be read online at: http://www.falkrichter.com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/PDF/Theatre%20plays/Je%20suis%20Fassbinder.pdf
On 23 November Cornelius Edlefsen’s production of “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” premiered on the Vestibül studio stage at Vienna’s Burgtheater. Fassbinder’s play about a destructive, dependent relationship was rediscovered in the year 2000 through François Ozon’s film of the same name and has since then enjoyed widespread success on stage. Information regarding further performances and tickets is available on the Burgtheater website: https://www.burgtheater.at/de/spielplan/produktionen/tropfen-auf-heisse-steine/termine/2018-12-02/982766988/
We wish our friends and readers a pleasant lead-up to Christmas, peaceful holidays and a Happy New Year. 2018 has been a very good year for the Fassbinder Foundation. Along with major retrospectives in Australia, the Cinémathèque française in Paris and the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna, it was announced that a Fassbinder Center would open in Frankfurt am Main next spring (for a report on the project see: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/kino/frankfurt-bekommt-ein-fassbinder-center-15786853.html).
In addition, we are looking forward to the restoration of a further seven Fassbinder works – including Daniel Schmid’s film SHADOW OF ANGELS (1976), which is based on RWF’s controversial play “Garbage, the City and Death.” We will be back again in February with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
More on the theater plays of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
Photo left: Hanna Schygulla in LA PRIÈRE © Le Pacte
Photo right: Cornelius Edlefsen’s production of “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” © Georg Soulek/Burgtheater