Newsletter April 2023

February saw the educational program “Encounter RWF” hold yet another event. Within the framework of the program, the German Film Institute and Film Museum (DFF) in Frankfurt am Main provides different possibilities for young people to engage with Fassbinder’s work and legacy. Pupils in Paris recently composed their own film essays, and in Frankfurt a youth group drew inspiration from RWF’s work to create a series of tone and music compositions.


The next event will take the form of a university seminar in Zurich in the context of which the participants will present a series of RWF works in the Filmpodium cinema. More information on “Encounter RWF” and its previous projects can be found on the DFF website:


February was also marked by the 73rd Berlinale, at which Steven Spielberg was awarded this year’s honorary bear for his life’s work. In his acceptance speech, Spielberg said that he owed a debt of thanks to German cinema, mentioning by name Ernst Lubitsch, Werner Herzog and Fassbinder.

The paths of the two directors, who at first glance seem very different, crossed at least indirectly in Wim Wenders’ documentary CHAMBRE 666 (1982). In the film, Wenders asks several directors about the future of cinema at the Cannes Film Festival. Unlike Spielberg, who describes himself as one of Hollywood’s last optimists and dreams of films that appeal to everyone, Fassbinder warns of a loss of individuality and of a cinema that will eventually become indistinguishable from television.


US filmmaker Ira Sachs’ new film was also shown at the Berlinale. PASSAGES tells the story of a German director (Franz Rogowski) who is married to a graphic designer (Ben Whishaw) but has a one-night stand with a teacher (Adele Exarchopoulos). The unforeseen aftermath raises questions about the extent to which someone can own another person and how painful one’s own freedom can be for others. The name Fassbinder was mentioned frequently in reviews of the film, particularly those by US critics. And indeed, Sachs not only shares with RWF an interest in the motif of emotional exploitation but is also an avowed admirer of the German filmmaker.


In an essay published in connection with an RWF retrospective in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Sachs writes, “I cannot name one favorite Fassbinder film, because I like different ones in different moods. The three that I think about most often are ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL, THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, and VERONIKA VOSS. Each of these films combines a ripe sadness with a simple beauty that leaves me in a perfect state of melancholy. They are also the three that have moved me the most directly without any need to be an intellectual about it.” The entire text is available at:


A year after the death of the German theater director, critic and journalist Günther Rühle, the third volume of his grand history of theater was published a few months ago: Theater in Deutschland 1967–1995: Seine Ereignisse – seine Menschen (Theater in Germany 1967-1995: its incidents – its people). The author devotes more than 800 pages to a “period of scandals and debates, of experiments and new beginnings.”


One of the incidents addressed by the book is the controversy surrounding Fassbinder’s play “Garbage, the City and Death.” Rühle himself was director of Frankfurt’s Schauspiel theater in 1985 when the premiere of the allegedly anti-Semitic play was prevented due to a stage occupation by members of the Jewish community. Although there was a performance for critics and theater staff, Dietrich Hilsdorf’s production was ultimately canceled due to the protests. Other chapters also deal with RWF, for example, with his beginnings in Munich. More information about the book, which is published by S. Fischer Verlag, can be found here: DE


On 31 March, Volker Vogeler’s film JAIDER – DER EINSAME JÄGER (Jaider, the lonely hunter, 1971) will be released on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time on the Filmjuwelen label. The story about a poacher in the 19th century who takes on the authorities is loosely based on the Bavarian folk hero Georg Jennerwein. Vogeler, who died in 2005 and, like Fassbinder, was a founding member of the Verlag der Autoren publishing house, staged the material in a stylistically idiosyncratic manner, mixing elements of spaghetti westerns with the genre skepticism of the New German Film movement. The film gave Gottfried John, who subsequently appeared in RWF’s EIGHT HOURS DO NOT MAKE A DAY (1972–73) and BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1980), his first leading role. A trailer of the restored version is available here: DE


A documentary about Douglas Sirk is currently available on the website of the German-French broadcaster Arte. Born Detlef Sierck, the director fled Nazi Germany with his Jewish wife Hilde and pursued a career in Hollywood. Fassbinder was a big fan of his melodramas and ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974) is a loose remake of ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955).


DOUGLAS SIRK – MEISTER DES MELODRAMS (Douglas Sirk – Hope as in Despair) features the voice of Hanna Schygulla, who reads the unpublished diary entries of Hilde Sirk. The film is available at: DE FR


Finally, some sad news: On 15 March, the theologian, politician and author Antje Vollmer died at the age of 79. An obituary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reads: “Despite suffering a long and serious illness, she continued as a pacifist to look with great clarity for ways to overcome the newly escalating bloc confrontations that are endangering the world’s existence. […] She never trusted the logic of weapons. She trusted in people’s capacity for peace.” In 2015 she published her correspondence with the singer-songwriter Hans-Eckhardt Wenzel in the book “The world behind the pictures: The lost Federal Republic in the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.”


We wish our readers and friends a sunny start to spring and a happy Easter. We will be back again soon with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.


More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:

More on the stage plays of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:


Photo left: Adèle Exarchopoulos and Franz Rogowski in Ira Sachs’ PASSAGES © SBS Distribution

Photo right: Cover of the book Theater in Deutschland 1967-1995: Seine Ereignisse – seine Menschen by Günther Rühle ©  S. Fischer Verlag