The Berlinale, Berlin’s international film festival, is over for this year – and the world premiere of the digitally restored version of Fassbinder’s EIGHT HOURS DON’T MAKE A DAY was an unqualified success. Berliners who did not make it to the screenings still have a chance to see the series on 31 March and 1 April, when the KulturRaum Zwinglikirche (Zwingli Church Cultural Center) in Friedrichshain will screen all five parts over two evenings along with Juliane Maria Lorenz’s documentary ACHT STUNDEN SIND KEIN TAG: EINE SERIE WIRD ZUM FAMILIENTREFFPUNKT (Eight Hours Don’t Make A Day: A series becomes a family meeting point). The screenings begin at 7 p.m. on both days and tickets are available on the KulturRaum’s website (https://www.kulturraum-zwinglikirche.de/veranstaltungen/fassbinder-weekend/ ) and at the cinema ticket office on the evenings of the screenings. We would also like to remind our readers of the DVD and Blu-ray box set released by Studiocanal: http://www.studiocanal.de/dvd/fassbinders_acht_stunden_sind_kein_tag-digital_remastered
Another Berlinale highlight for the Fassbinder Foundation was the world premier of Nicolas Wackerbarth’s new film CASTING. This biting media satire revolves around a planned TV movie based on Fassbinder’s “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.” The director (Judith Engel) cannot decide who to cast in the main role, and so several actresses are invited to audition again. Gerwin (Andreas Lust) is enlisted to read the part of Karin in the auditions, a role that is to be played by a man in the film. Although not part of the actual cast, Gerwin soon finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue in which everyone is intent on asserting themselves regardless of the consequences. CASTING takes a sarcastic look at the television business and plays with the ever more permeable boundaries between fiction and reality. The longer the nerve-racking casting goes on, the more clearly the power relations and dependencies explored in Fassbinder’s film are reflected on the set.
The British Film Institute (BFI) in London last showed a complete Fassbinder retrospective in 1999. Starting at the end of March it will again screen all of the director’s work. The series of screenings will be accompanied by several introductions and lectures. For example, on 29 March Hanna Schygulla and Juliane Maria Lorenz will be present to introduce THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN. An overview of the screenings taking place until the end of April can be found on the BFI’s website: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/ Screenings taking place in May will be announced soon.
Another retrospective well worth seeing is currently running in Vienna and Berlin. The series, which is dedicated to post-war German film and curated by Olaf Möller, was already shown at the festival in Locano last year. Now it is being screened in a somewhat altered form at the Austrian Film Museum (https://www.filmmuseum.at/jart/prj3/filmmuseum/main.jart?rel=en&content-id=1219068743272&schienen_id=1485733171401 ), where the focus is on the crime film, and at Berlin’s Zeughauskino ( http://www.dhm.de/de/zeughauskino/filmreihen/zu-den-verhaeltnissen.html), where the emphasis is on the political mood of the post-war period.
While Fassbinder – with some reservations – was an admirer of Hollywood cinema, he seldom expressed an opinion about the popular cinema of West Germany, although unlike other representatives of New German Cinema he did work with popular actors from the time such as Brigitte Mira and Karlheinz Böhm. Filmmakers linked with the Oberhausen Manifesto, one of the founding documents of New German Cinema, tended to ignore the fact that films made by directors such as Helmut Käutner, Kurt Hoffmann and Wolfgang Staudte were often far more daring than generally assumed not only in technical terms but also in the way they critically approached Germany’s Nazi past. These qualities did not go unnoticed by Fassbinder. As director Dominik Graf writes in his book “Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen” (A Song Slumbers in All Things): “In German cinema it is sometimes as if one is repeatedly confronted by certain periods of German history anew. […] Fassbinder was born just after the war and grew up in the cinema during the fifties. A film such as Lili Marleen today seems like a revival of his own view of the German films of his childhood. Postwar cinema revisited” (The book can be ordered on the website of the publisher, Alexander Verlag: https://www.alexander-verlag.com/programm/titel/5-Schlaeft_ein_Lied_in_allen_Dingen.html ).
“The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” has just been staged in New York’s New Ohio Theater in a production directed by Benjamin Viertel (for more information see: http://www.thirdspacetheater.org/the-bitter-tears-of-petra-von-kant/ ). Writing about the production in the New Yorker, Hilton Als recalls how he once encountered Fassbinder by chance in Greenwich Village. His article can be read online at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/rainer-werner-fassbinders-sadomasochism?mbid=social_twitter
Munich’s Residence Theater is currently offering the rare opportunity to see a stage adaptation of the Fassbinder film IN A YEAR WITH 13 MOONS. The production, which is directed by Aureliusz Smigiel, premiered on 11 March. The leading role of the transsexual Elvira Weishaupt is played by Thomas Loibl, who was recently seen in Maren Ade’s film TONI ERDMANN playing the protagonist’s boss. Tickets and performance dates are available on the theater’s website: https://www.residenztheater.de/inszenierung/einem-jahr-mit-13-monden
“How do we make theater in view of what is happening around us, in us, here and now?” asks Falk Richter in his play “Je suis Fassbinder,” which is based on RWF’s episode in the film GERMANY IN AUTUMN. On 23, 24 and 25 March guest performances of the German-language production by Barish Karademir are being given in Nuremburg’s Tafelhalle. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at: https://tickets.rtl.de/various-artists-742911/je-suis-fassbinder-von-falk-richter-681672
In conclusion, a new book recommendation: In “Der Himmel über Westberlin: Meine Freunde, die Künstler und andere Patienten” (The Sky Over West Berlin: My Friends, the Artists and Other Patients) the former dentist Anatol Gotfryd tells of his eventful life during the Second World War and of his many prominent patients. Along with Markus Lüpertz, Günter Grass, Heiner Müller and Harald Juhnke, Gotfryd’s practice was also visited by Fassbinder. The book can be purchased on the website of the publisher, Quintus-Verlag: https://buch-findr.de/buecher/der-himmel-ueber-westberlin/
We wish our readers and friends a pleasant beginning to spring and will be back again in April with news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Photo left: EIGHT HOURS DON’T MAKE A DAY © Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
Photo right: cover of Anatol Gotfryd’s “Der Himmel über Westberlin: Meine Freunde, die Künstler und andere Patienten” © Quintus Verlag