It was unfortunately hardly remarked on in the press that on 19 May the choreographer, director and theatre manager Dieter Gackstetter died at the age of 77. Apart from his long stage career, Gackstetter also worked as a choreographer on a diverse range of films. He was involved in the making of the popular dance film ANNA, John Frankenheimer’s spy thriller THE HOLCROFT COVENANT and the Fassbinder films LOLA, LILI MARLEEN und QUERELLE. He and RWF were also linked by a friendship and a spiritual affinity. An obituary for Gackstetter, which includes an overview of his artistic career, can be read here: http://www.tanznetz.de/blog/28178/zum-tod-von-dieter-gackstetter
The Belgian Michael Laub, also a director and choreographer, recently presented his stage production “Fassbinder, Faust and the Animists,” which was co-funded by the Fassbinder Foundation, in Berlin and Vienna, where it attracted for the most part very enthusiastic reviews. The Austrian Standard, for instance, wrote: “Laub has filleted Fassbinder’s 1971 film BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE. He has his actors reenact several of the most important sequences, intercuts them with Goethe’s Mephisto and Gretchen, and integrates rhythmic dance pieces into his deconstruction. The result is a work that succeeds down to the last detail, a work with an explosiveness that only reveals itself at second glance.”
The Berliner Zeitung wrote: “BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE, as Fassbinder himself once said, ‘is about waking up and realizing that you have dreamt about something that doesn’t exist.’ This game continues on and on, as Laub shows us laconically and on many different levels.” The Tagespiegel also drew attention to the role of the three dancers from Cambodia appearing in the production: “The theme of exploitation and dependency […] explored using the example of a film crew, takes on another meaning through their presence and the cultural clash it evokes.”
At the beginning of July there was also another theater performance to marvel at, presented not by professionals but by pupils from Berlin’s Droste-Hülshoff-Gymnasium. Along with a Fassbinder improvisation by junior secondary students, the program included a production of the RWF play “Preparadise Sorry Now” mounted by Martin Ganguly and senior secondary students. Among the enthusiastic audience was the theater scholar David Barnett – author of the book “Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the German Theatre.” Barnett had high praise for this new interpretation of the play and for the highly individual manner in which the young actors spoke their lines. For a number of years now Fassbinder’s work has been providing an increasingly popular source for school productions, and it will be very interesting to see what the future brings in this respect.
Autumn still seems a long way away, but there are already two events you can put in your calendar. One is a retrospective in Berlin devoted the work of director Tsai Ming Liang. Throughout September the Arsenal cinema will be screening the filmmaker’s twelve best feature films. Tsai Ming Liang has been described in the press as Taiwan’s Fassbinder, and in interviews the director has often spoken of his love of European auteur cinema – one of his favorite films is FEAR EATS THE SOUL. Although he does not share much with the German director in stylistic terms, his films are characterized by leitmotifs such as emotional alienation, one-sided desire and social exploitation. With his sympathies firmly on the side of the outsider, Tsai creates a world that, due to its unique temporality, requires a degree of adjustment by viewers. His extended shots start to become interesting at a point where conventional films would already have introduced a cut. The full program of screenings will soon be available on the Arsenal cinema’s website: http://www.arsenal-berlin.de/en/home.html
We have reported several times on the inspiration playwright and director Falk Richter has drawn from RWF for his productions “Fear” and “Je suis Fassbinder.” On 1 September a collection of Richter’s works titled “Ich bin Europa” (I am Europe) will be published by Theater der Zeit. The volume includes the two works already referred to as well as three later texts for the stage. Advance orders can be made on the publisher’s website: http://www.theaterderzeit.de/buch/ich_bin_europa/
Finally, we would like to congratulate Karlheinz Braun belatedly on his 85th birthday. Braun was one of the co-founders of Verlag der Autoren, the democratically organized publisher and agency for theater, film, television and radio authors, and invited Fassbinder to join as one of its first members. From the outset, the publishing house saw itself as a home for young authors. Braun also played the role of the lawyer Löwenhund in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ. An appreciation of his career published to mark his birthday can be read at: http://www.fr.de/frankfurt/karlheinz-braun-unsere-demos-waren-tanzvorfuehrungen-a-1307332
On 1st of August the Fassbinder Foundation will begin its summer break. We will be back on 9th of September and are already looking forward to two new Blu-ray editions from Studiocanal.
Until then we wish our readers and friends a wonderful summer.
Photo left: THE RIVER by Tsai Ming Liang © Taiwan Central Motion Picture Corporation
Photo right: Book cover of Falk Richter’s “Ich bin Europa” © Theater der Zeit Verlag