Nathalie Portman und Juliane Moore in MAY DECEMBER ©Elite Film

Newsletter March 2024


Newsletter March 2024

In October and November, the Zurich Filmpodium presented the series “Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Somewhere, a Tenderness,” the opening of which was attended by RWFF President Juliane Maria Lorenz-Wehling. The program was curated by students from the Department of Film Studies at the University of Zurich as part of the “Encounter RWF” educational program. The aim of the project, initiated by the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum (DFF), is to introduce a younger generation to Fassbinder’s work and at the same time facilitate a fresh look at the director’s oeuvre. The students were responsible for the introductions to the film series.

The series included the working-class TV series EIGHT HOURS ARE NOT A DAY (1972–73) as well as the films KATZELMACHER (1969), MUTTER KÜSTERS GOES TO HEAVEN (1975) und THE THIRD GENERATION (1979). The complete program, together with an introductory text by film scholar Stefanie Schlüter is available at:

In the Retrospective section of the 74th Berlin Film Festival (February 15-25, 2024), the Deutsche Kinemathek film and TV museum presented films from its own archive under the title “The Other Cinema.” Made between 1960 and 2000, the selection of films aimed to represent West and East German film history beyond the conventional canon. The program included Hansjürgen Pohland’s TOBBY (1961), Frank Vogel’s DENK BLOSS NICHT, ICH HEULE (Just Don’t think I’ll Cry, 1965) and Roland Klick’s SUPERMARKT (1974) with Eva Mattes.

To accompany the retrospective, the Deutsche Kinemathek media library is offering nine more films for free streaming. In addition to films by Helma Sanders-Brahms, Andreas Kleinert and an early Dutch work by Douglas Sirk, 1 BERLIN-HARLEM (1974) by Lothar Lambert and Wolfram Zobus is also available there until 30 April. In this film, a black ex-GI who has to reorganize his life becomes a projection screen for racist prejudices and exotic desires. In a guest appearance, Fassbinder and Ingrid Caven want to recruit the protagonist for a film: “But we’re not looking for an actor, we’re looking for a black man.” 1 BERLIN-HARLEM can be streamed here:

Lothar Lambert also received the Special Award of the queer film prize Teddy at the Berlin Film Festival. Lambert has been making films about social outsiders since the early 1970s, mostly with amateur actors, very low budgets and often playfully silly titles such as GESTATTEN, BESTATTER!, VERDAMMT IN ALLE EITELKEIT and AUS DEM TAGEBUCH EINES SEXMOPPEL. Tilman Krause writes in the newspaper Die Welt that the films are about a Berlin “from below and from behind”: “where it is shrill and weird and trashy, in short: the way it really is.” The full article is available at:

We would like to congratulate Hanna Schygulla on her 80th birthday, which she celebrated on 25 December last year. In the course of her screen career, which now spans over fifty years, the actress has not only appeared in many of Fassbinder’s films, but also in films by Wim Wenders, Alexander Sukorow, Béla Tarr, Fatih Akin, Jean-Luc Godard and Carlos Saura. She can currently be seen in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Frankenstein-inspired POOR THINGS.

In an article published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Andreas Kilb pays tribute to the actress: “Even in her first role with Fassbinder, as Marie in ‘Katzelmacher,’ she radiates an inner distance alongside her erotic immediacy, which is the result of a special effort of will. Schygulla, born the daughter of a timber merchant in Upper Silesia, learned early on as a refugee child in Munich to keep her feelings in check. In front of the camera, she turned this into a style of acting that should not be misunderstood as inertial, because it is an emphatic form of self-control.” (See the full text at: DE) On 3 May, the German Film Academy will award “the institution and icon” Hanna Schygulla an honorary Lola.

On 8 March, producer Regina Ziegler also celebrated her 80th birthday. Among her numerous films are two directed by her late husband Wolf Gremm in which Fassbinder appears in front of the camera: the dystopian KAMIKAZE 1989 and the documentary RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER – LETZTE ARBEITEN (both 1982). She founded her company “Regina Ziegler Filmproduktion” in 1972 and after initially concentrating on projects by young up-and-coming directors she later worked increasingly for television. Her most recent production is Andreas Dresen’s IN LIEBE, EURE HILDE about the Nazi resistance fighter Hilde Coppi, which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

In his birthday greeting in the FAZ, Claudius Seidl writes: “Regina Ziegler is one of the most modern people in her industry and at the same time an astoundingly old-fashioned figure – and perhaps this contradiction is the reason for her success. […] On the one hand, when Regina Ziegler started out at the age of 29, the profession only existed in the male version: […] machismo and a cowboy attitude were very much part of it, which meant that in the beginning she had to put up with being asked if she was the secretary. And on the other hand, she talks about ‘her’ films as if the great days of producer cinema have not been over for fifty years, describing the work of researching, writing and directing as if she has been there and deeply involved in everything. Since no director contradicts her, we can take her word for it.” The full article can be read here:

We also received some sad news: Elisabeth Trissenaar passed away on 14 January at the age of 79. She appeared in four of Fassbinder’s films, most prominently as Hanni in the Oskar Maria Graf adaptation BOLWIESER (1977). Her career in theater was significantly shaped by her longstanding collaboration with her husband, director Hans Neuenfels, known for his thoughtful and provocative productions.

In his obituary for the Tagesspiegel newspaper, Peter von Becker writes that she was “not an absolute goddess,” but “even as an admired protagonist, a child of the very secular late sixties fighting for more theater democracy and images of women informed by a solidarity with feminism.” Her heart beat strongest for the theater: “For the exploration, discovery and invention of dramatic figures, which she brought to life as embodied poetry with a tremendous vocal, gestural presence.” The entire text is available at:

Ian Penman’s autobiographical Fassbinder book “Thousands of Mirrors” has now also been published in German (“Tausende von Spiegeln”). Tobias Obermeier writes in Jungle World: “Penman’s almost 250-page book is a fascinating kaleidoscope of precisely formulated reflections on Fassbinder’s work. […] Or as Penman formulates his intention: ‘I tried to write the way Fassbinder himself worked: start immediately, just get going’.” The book can be purchased here, among other places:

For those feeling inspired by the book, the streaming service Mubi is offering the possibility to see or revisit a number of Fassbinder’s films. Seven RWF films are currently available on the service, including BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE (1971), FOX AND HIS FRIENDS (1975) and IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS (1978). However, a Mubi subscription is required (13.99 euros monthly).

In Germany, we can look forward to Todd Haynes’ latest directorial work, MAY DECEMBER. Loosely based on a true story, the film tells the tale of an actress (Natalie Portman) who interviews a woman who once made the headlines (Juliane Moore) because she is supposed to portray her in a movie. Haynes, whose ambiguous melodramas are in the same tradition as Sirk and Fassbinder, is once again likely to blur the boundaries between identities and between truth and fiction. While the film is already available as video on demand in most countries, it will be released in cinemas in Germany on 30 May. A trailer is available here:

We wish our readers and friends a happy, sunny Easter break and will return in the summer with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.


More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:

More on the plays Rainer Werner Fassbinder:


Photo left: Nathalie Portman and Juliane Moore in MAY DECEMBER © Elite Film

Photo right: Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Ingrid Caven in 1 BERLIN HARLEM © Lothar Lambert