The major Fassbinder retrospective in the Austrian Film Museum has just ended. It included not only RWF’s own work but also films such as Nicolas Wackerbarth’s satire CASTING (2017), which portrays the humiliations and power games accompanying a television adaptation of “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.”
On the film museum’s highly recommended blog the director discusses the difficulties involved in engaging with an artist like Fassbinder who has attained mythical status as well as the freedom such engagement brings: “There are hundreds of Petra von Kants in the world. Maybe that’s the reason why translating the story in this way doesn’t feel like slaughtering a holy cow. I come from the theater. For me, this was primarily a text. And my first encounter with Fassbinder was as a writer. […] That helps to see him not as a saint but as someone who also worked with texts by other writers.” The entire interview is available at: http://blog.filmmuseum.at/liebst-du-mich-ein-gesprach-mit-nicolas-wackerbarth-zu-casting-und-rainer-werner-fassbinder/
In summer this year we informed our readers about an online excerpt from a public discussion with Fassbinder that took place following a screening of FOX AND HIS FRIENDS (1975). A highly recommended video of the entire discussion is now available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkFfJZIf9hM&feature=youtu.be
We would also like to recommend a text by Alexander Horwath, the former director of the Austrian Film Museum and a tireless champion of film culture and analog cinema. In an essay published in the culture magazine Perlentaucher he writes about the promise of cinema and the dream that life on the screen could be wholly open to existence ‘out there.’” With reference to Fassbinder he emphasizes that this is not about “entertaining the phantasm of authenticity and immediacy. There is no ‘real’ life beyond what is mediated. The film that tries to permeate life must, like Sherlock Jr., continually delve into the inauthentic and become ‘animate’ where feelings and life itself are manifested in their artificiality and constructedness.” The complete text is available at: https://www.perlentaucher.de/essay/die-utopie-film-alexander-horwath-ueber-das-versprechen-des-kinos.html
Over the coming weeks two remarkable films with a surprising number of parallels are screening in German cinemas: Christophe Honoré’s romantic drama SORRY ANGEL (cinema release: 25 October) and Gaspar Noé’s diabolic dance marathon CLIMAX (6 November). The two films not only share a transgressive approach, an emphatically visual narrative style and a setting in the 1990s. The two directors have also both declared a fascination with the work of Fassbinder. This is witnessed by minor references to QUERELLE (1982) in both films – in one case in the form of a poster in the apartment of the protagonist and in the other in the form of a prominently positioned VHS cassette. Trailers for SORRY ANGEL and CLIMAX can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRF290gedLs and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi69nL_VrTE respectively.
A new generation’s approach to Fassbinder’s work is also on show in November in Berlin’s Deutsches Theater, where Philipp Arnold’s stylized production of “Water Drops On Burning Rocks” will be performed again on 17 November (tickets can be purchased at: https://www.deutschestheater.de/programm/a-z/tropfen_auf_heisse_steine/). And on 21 November there will be another performance of “Katzelmacher” directed by Jessica Glause (tickets: https://www.deutschestheater.de/programm/a-z/katzelmacher/ DE). The former production was part of this year’s Radikal jung theater festival in Munich, and the latter is a project by the Deutsches Theater youth ensemble, Junges DT.
We would also like to remind our readers about the exhibition of the work of costume designer Barbara Baum in Frankfurt am Main, which is running until 10 March 2019. More information is available on the website of the German Film Museum: https://deutsches-filminstitut.de/hautnah/
Congratulations are due to the renowned producer Günter Rohrbach, who turned 90 on 23 October. To mark the occasion an exhibition charting his career is being held from 16 November 2018 to 31 January 2019 in the Hüttenstadt-Museum in Neunkirchen in the German state of Saarland. In her introduction to the exhibition, RWFF president Juliane Maria Lorenz writes, “Günter Rohrbach was one of Fassbinder’s most important collaborators at the beginning of his career […] A decisive aspect of this partnership was their shared conviction that if making films and the audience were to be taken seriously, the division between cinema and television as mere entertainment had to be eliminated.”
We wish our friends and readers an enjoyable November and will return again in a month 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: Andreas Lust and Ursina Lardi in CASTING © Arne Höhne Presse / Piffl
Photo right: Bernd Moss and Daniel Hoevels in “Water Drops On Burning Rocks” © Viktor Reim / Deutsches Theater Berlin