This month we must once again say farewell to friends. One of them is the photographer Erika Rabau, who died on 10 April. Rabau was born into a middle-class family in Gdansk. She originally wanted to be an actress but decided first to see the world. Her travels took her to South America, where she began to work as a camerawoman. She moved to Germany in 1960 and in 1972 became the official photographer for the Berlin Film Festival. Over forty years she photographed the established and rising stars of the international film scene and in 2008 was honored with an exhibition devoted to her work at Berlin’s Museum for Communications. She also made numerous appearances in front of the camera. She was a muse for Lothar Lambert and had small roles in films by Wim Wenders, Ulrike Ottinger and Fassbinder. What distinguished Erika Rabau, who was also known as the “Puck of Berlin,” was her unending passion for the right shot, endurance and clear-headedness. And this is precisely how we will remember her.
Only a week later came the news of the death of Karl-Heinz von Hassel. The actor died in his hometown of Hamburg at the age of 77 and, along with numerous film and theater roles, is particularly remembered for his performances as Police Inspector Brinkmann in the German police procedural TV series TATORT. He played memorable roles in Fassbinder films such as BOLWIESER, LOLA and THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN. Anyone who remembers Karl-Heinz von Hassel as the Nazi official and patron of Willie Bunterberg (Hanna Schygulla) in LILI MARLEEN might well wonder why this actor, whose work was marked by refined gestures, wit and elegance, was not cast more often in recent productions.
Like Karl-Heinz von Hassel, Eva Mattes also found a temporary home in TATORT. As Inspector Klara Blum, she takes on her last case in the episode UND WOFÜR ES SICH ZU LEBEN LOHNT (What is Worth Living For). What particularly distinguishes this farewell episode is the fact that it is also a reunion of leading Fassbinder actresses, with Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla and Margit Carstensen all playing guest roles. Although the episode will not be shown on TV until autumn, it will already premiere on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz on 13 May at 8:30 p.m. Unfortunately the screening is already almost sold out. Currently, tickets for standing room only are still available at: https://www.easyticket.de/veranstaltung/die-grosse-swr-tatort-premiere-stehplaetze/63184/
Eva Mattes can also be seen live soon working with Theater RambaZamba, an integrative theater project for people with disabilities. From 7 to 9 June, the ensemble will be performing a free interpretation of Brecht titled “The Good Person of Downtown.” Tickets can be reserved at email@example.com.
On 16 May, after several delays, Schirmer/Mosel Publishers is finally releasing its illustrated catalog of works by Fassbinder. Co-edited by RWFF president Juliane Maria Lorenz, the book combines several essays and contemporary photographs with 1368 film stills, which, as it says in the jacket text, “were selected film by film on the cutting table or the screen and conjure up and enable the reader to revisit the brilliance, glamour and richness of the Fassbinder cosmos.” An elaborately designed coffee-table book and a wonderful gift idea that takes us on a journey through Fassbinder’s 44 films, “his actors – the beautiful men and strong women – followed by his cinematographers, set decorators, set designers and closest collaborators.”
We also highly recommend the retrospective of films by the Iranian director Sohrab Shahid Saless being screened at Berlin’s Zeughauskino from 31 May to 30 June. Still largely unknown to the general public, Saless made the majority of his films in Germany. In 1974 he, like Fassbinder, made a film about the experience of the so-called guest worker in Germany. However, whereas Fassbinder’s FEAR EATS THE SOUL takes West German reality and forms it into a classic melodrama, Salles’ IN DER FREMDE (In a foreign land) is above all a patiently crafted study of social isolation. Salles’ films are reduced to their essential elements and are remorseless in their depiction of social ills. Particularly recommended is, the filmmaker’s magnum opus UTOPIA, which focuses in the destructive relationship of dependence between a violent pimp and his girls. The retrospective also includes the documentary DIE LANGEN FERIEN DER LOTTE H. EISNER (The long vacation of Lotte H. Eisner), a portrait of the renowned film critic, who, as a Jew, had to flee from the Nazis and later championed the representatives of New German Cinema. In the last chapter of her book “The Haunted Screen” she refers to Fassbinder as one of the hopes of young German cinema. The entire program of the Saless retrospective can be found at:
We would also like to remind all Berliners again of the presentation of the book “Das TAT. Das legendäre Frankfurter Theaterlabor” (The TAT. The legendary Frankfurt theater laboratory), which is taking place on the rehearsal stage of the Berliner Ensemble on 10 May at 8 p.m. Tickets costing 16 euros are available on the theater’s website: http://www.berliner-ensemble.de/online-kauf/8870
In conclusion we would also like to recommend a film currently in cinemas. Since 5 May, Alex Ross Perry’s QUEEN OF EARTH has been showing in selected German cinemas. The film tells of two women who go to a lakeside holiday house for a relaxing weekend only to find themselves overwhelmed by their inner demons. As a director, Perry is known for making explicit references to film history and in this case he draws on the psychodramas of Ingmar Berman and American horror films of the 1970s. Fassbinder also played a role in the genesis of QUEEN OF EARTH: In order to develop his characters, Perry showed his lead actress Elisabeth Moss photographs of scenes from MARTHA and THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT. In the case of the latter, the director was particularly interested in the idea of concentrating the action on a single location and the oppressive feeling that this produces. A trailer for the film can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzPgN8eEI-c
We wish our friends and readers a pleasant May and will be back in June with more news from the world around Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
Photo left: Cover of the book “R.W. Fassbinder. Die Filme: Illustriertes Werkverzeichnis 1969-1982” © Schirmer/Mosel
Photo right: Elisabeth Moss in QUEEN OF EARTH © Arsenal Distribution