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Focus on Fassbinder

Focus on Fassbinder

"Everyone must decide for himself whether it is better to have a brief but more intensely felt existence or to live a long and ordinary life," Rainer Werner Fassbinder once said in an interview; in hindsight a statement neatly summing up his own life, which was brief, but which he lived to the max. In his 37 years, he made more than forty films (the first aged 21), various plays and many television series. He worked day and night, assisted by large amounts of stimulants. Eventually, an overdose of cocaine and barbiturates combined with alcohol caused his death.

Reiner Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982), along with Werner Herzog, Volker Schlöndorff and Wim Wenders, the founder of the Neue Deutsche Welle, was definitely not always well loved by the general public. He provoked and offended, was openly gay and had little consideration for the petty bourgeois, hypocritical morality of post-war Germany. In many of his films, his characters struggle with circumstances, a near-inevitable fate lurking everywhere. Take for example Maria Braun, Lola and Veronika Voss, the protagonists of his BRD Trilogy, screened in its entirety during this programme.

Now, 38 years after his death, his films seem to have stood the test of time very well, having lost none of their urgency. Actually, typical Fassbinder themes, such as national history, emancipation, sexuality, and xenophobia, are today more relevant than ever. This is exactly why Fassbinder is seen as one of the most important post-war German directors. For Rialto, it is the reason to honour Fassbinder with a small retrospective of seven films and to commemorate the year in which he would have turned 75.