On 3 December, one of the most important innovators in the world of cinema celebrated his 90th birthday. Whether as a critic for the film magazine Cahiers du cinéma, a central protagonist of the French New Wave, or a political activist, Jean-Luc Godard has always exhibited the courage to experiment and curiosity about the unknown. His most recent work as a director, THE IMAGE BOOK (2018), which is anything but a classical film essay, is currently available in the Arte online media archive: https://bit.ly/2KvAiVd DE https://bit.ly/3oXFcJq FR
Fassbinder was a connoisseur and admirer of the French director’s work. He claimed to have seen Godard’s VIVRE SA VIE (1962) twenty-seven times: “That film empowered me. I believe it had a lot to do with my ideas.” VIVRE SA VIE also left its mark on RWF’s own filmography. He prefixed his melodrama ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974), for instance, with a quote from Godard’s film, “Happiness is not always fun,” and gave the film’s lead actress, Anna Karina, a role in CHINESE ROULETTE (1976).
Godard in turn cast Hanna Schygulla in his film PASSION (1982). The German actress has just been awarded the City of Munich’s culture prize, which is endowed with 10,000 euros. Previous recipients of the prize include Werner Herzog, Herlinde Koelbl and Gerhard Polt. The jury’s statement characterizes the actress as follows: “Her gaze seems somnambulant, as if she is seeing the film images as they emerge from afar; at the same time she is completely present; there is an apparent aloofness to her acting but also an enormous intensity; undramatic, almost motionless, a voice without marked modulation, the typical Fassbinder-Schygulla sound.” (The entire German text can be found at: https://bit.ly/3mwdd1D) Our warm congratulations on receiving this award!
For weeks, cultural life has again lain fallow because of the Coronavirus. For the time being, the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, for instance, has once again had to close the exhibition “Close-Up – The Film Costumes of Barbara Baum,” which was first shown two years ago in Frankfurt am Main (more information on the exhibition is available on the Kinemathek’s website: (https://bit.ly/2IXSg2b DE https://bit.ly/3p4OKCx EN)
On the Filmdienst portal, Josef Nagel provides a vivid description of what visitors can hopefully marvel at again soon at the exhibition: “The highest praise has been earned by the curators Hans-Peter Reichmann and Isabelle Bastian, who have meticulously composed and lovingly presented their subject matter. […] Over 50 original costumes are supplemented by numerous, in some cases very personal, documents from Baum’s private archive, which permit a wonderful overview of her oeuvre.” (The complete German text can be found at: https://bit.ly/37pEXAQ) Following its reopening, the show is scheduled to continue until 5 May 2021.
Unlike museums, galleries were permitted to remain open during the “lockdown light.” This made it possible for Berlin’s Contemporary Fine Arts gallery (CFA) to continue showing its group exhibition marking Fassbinder’s 75th birthday. The exhibition, titled “Der Goldene Reiter in Faustrecht der Freiheit aka Fox and His Friends,” brought together numerous artists, including Wolfgang Tillmans, Sarah Lucas, Raymond Pettibon, Cosima von Bonin and Martin Kippenberger. The presented works – some of them especially commissioned for this event – were supposed to generate a dialog based “on associations and atmospheric connections with both RWF’s creative work and his cultural and political environment.” Although the exhibition finished at the end of November, a good impression is offered by the virtual tour available on the CFA website: https://bit.ly/34kfXZX
With cinemas also closed since 2 November, the International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg (IFFMH) also had to improvise and could only take place online. This year saw not only a new festival director in the person of Sascha Keilholzbut but also the premiere of the newly created Rainer Werner Fassbinder Award for Best Script. Endowed with a sum of 10,000 euros, the award remembers the “outstanding scriptwriter who was sometimes overshadowed by the passionate director.” Fassbinder‘s KATZELMACHER (1969) had its world premiere at the IFFMH.
In this year’s competition the jury gave the award to Chinese director Zhang Qi’s debut film, SINGLE CYCLE, describing the work as a “wonderful puzzle, one that is all the more beautiful because it is unsolvable.”
As we head into our winter break, we wish our readers and friends not only a peaceful time over Christmas and a Happy New Year but also good health and all the stamina needed to get through any lockdowns. We will be back in 2021 with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder
More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
Photo left: Hanna Schygulla in LILI MARLEEN © DFF / Archiv Barbara Baum
Photo right: BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, design: Barbara Baum © DFF / Archiv Barbara Baum