Newsletter October 2016

bad-decisions-william-minkeSeptember this year was overshadowed by the sad news of the death of actor Hilmar Thate at the age of 85. Thate grew up in Halle, where he began his training as an actor at the age of 16. He embarked on his professional theatre career in 1949 and subsequently also appeared in numerous films – including several directed by Konrad Wolf. In 1976 he spoke out against the decision by the East German government to strip singer Wolf Biermann of his citizenship and as a result found himself a target of the GDR regime’s repressive measures. In 1980 he and his wife, Angelica Domröse, immigrated to West Germany, where a short time later Thate played the male protagonist in Fassbinder’s VERONIKA VOSS. In the film Thate’s character, sports reporter Robert Krohn, meets the former UFA film star Veronika Voss (played by Rosel Zech), whose career is in decline and who is caught up in a web of intrigue and dependency. In 2005 Thate appeared in his final film role, in Jutta Brückner‘s HITLER CANTATA. In the time leading up to his death, the actor lived a withdrawn life with his wife in Berlin.
Fassbinder’s only film featuring Hilmar Thate will soon be screened in a 35 mm copy in Toronto. From 29 October until 23 December, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is showing major retrospective of the director’s work, “Imitations of Life: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder,” the entire program for which is available online ( EN). Parallel to the retrospective, the Goethe Institute, in collaboration with the Fassbinder Foundation, is presenting an exhibition of Fassbinder film posters from 21 October to 20 December together with homages by other directors such as Fatih Akin, Atom Egoyan, Aki Kaurismäki, Mike Leigh, François Ozon und Park Chan-wook. More information can be found at: DE EN

On 1 October Falk Richter’s play “Je suis Fassbinder” had its German premiere in a production directed by Barish Karademir. Based on RWF’s contribution to the omnibus film GERMANY IN AUTUMN, the play explores the question of how an artist can respond to the current social situation in Germany, or, as the program puts it, “how one can make theatre, how the individual should behave, what we are permitted to say, what art can achieve in general.” Unfortunately the performance schedule in autumn is now finished. However, on 23, 24 and 25 March, the production can be seen at the Tafelhalle performance center in Nuremburg (tickets: DE). For those who cannot wait until then, the full text of the play is available on Falk Richter’s homepage ( DE).
Meanwhile, at Berlin’s Volksbühne Swiss director Christoph Marthaler is bidding farewell to longtime artistic director Frank Castorf with the production “Bekannte Gefühle, gemischte Gesichter” (Familiar feelings, mixed faces), the cast of which includes Irm Hermann. At the moment remaining tickets for the coming performances on 6 and 27 November will only be available at the evening box office. A further collaboration between Marthaler and Hermann, the highly enjoyable homage to German popular song “Tessa Blomstedt gibt nicht auf” (Tessa Blomstedt doesn’t give up) is currently touring through Mexico after which is will return again to Berlin for more performances.

To open the new theater season, René Pollesch, Marthaler’s amusing and intellectually engaging colleague at the Volksbühne, decided to shoot a film. This is not Pollesch’s first time behind the camera. In 2003, he made the four-part television series 24 HOURS ARE NOT A DAY, which not only borrowed its title from Fassbinder’s EIGHT HOURS ARE NOT A DAY, but also its theme of how employees are enslaved by the capitalist system. Pollesch’s actors at the time included Irm Hermann and Volker Spengler, the latter of whom can also be seen in Pollesch’s new film, BAD DECISIONS, which is showing again on 24 October (tickets: DE) and as a double feature with 24 HOURS ARE NOT A DAY on 27 October (tickets: DE).
For those who prefer to stay at home in autumn, an array of equally interesting alternatives are available. Following its cinema release and screenings at international festival, Annekatrin Hendel’s FASSBINDER, a documentary about the life and work of the director is now available as a video on demand. The film can be downloaded from iTunes, for example, for 11.99 euros ( DE).
Also worthy of note is a book published at the beginning September by edition text + kritik. Titled “Film-Bühne Hotel: Begegnungen in begrenzten Räumen” (The hotel as film stage: encounters in confined spaces), the book sees the hotel as a microcosm of society and presents a series of essays around this idea by film scholars. Along with essays on dress codes in Nazi cinema and the plots of films based around German pop songs, one chapter is devoted to RWF’s BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE. The book can be ordered on the publisher’s homepage ( DE).
And finally a word on a great find on the internet, where the broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur is offering a conversation between Hanna Schygulla and the moderator Klaus Pokatzky as a stream. The interview with the actress deals with topics such as her idea of true greatness, her new home in Berlin, and the dark side of fame. The entire broadcast is available at: DE

Wherever our readers are spending October, we wish them all a golden autumn. We will be in touch again in November with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder: DE EN FR

More on the theater plays of Rainer Werner Fassbinder: DE EN FR

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Photo right: René Pollesch’s BAD DECISIONS © William Minke