Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the leading lights in the New German Cinema movement. Despite his short directorial career, passing away aged just 37, his influence on postmodern European filmmaking is simply unprecedented, and now the BFI (British Film Institute) are celebrating the groundbreaking auteur’s archive.
Undoubtedly among the most prolific filmmakers of the 20th century, who completed no less than forty feature films in less than fifteen years, the Fassbinder retrospective will celebrate the constantly controversial and fearless filmmaker. Running at the BFI Southbank from Monday 27 March – Wednesday 31 May, this extensive season of cinema will feature most of the great auteur’s huge body of work, from gangster movies to melodramas, social satires to queer dramas.
The season will include an introductory talk Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Wunderkind, Iconoclast, Star by Martin Brady (King’s College London, GSSN) and a Fassbinderian Politics Study Day during which we’ll examine his preoccupation with marginal figures, re-evaluate his provocative representations of LGBT characters, and consider how his forensic analysis of class exploitation contrasts with his critique of left-wing institutions.
A highlight of the season will be a special screening of The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978) on Wednesday 29 March. The film would provide the greatest critical and commercial success of Fassbinder’s career, and was the ‘German Hollywood film’ he’d longed to make. We will welcome the film’s star Hanna Schygulla and Editor Juliane Lorenz, who is also President of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation, to discuss working with post-war Germany’s most prominent and controversial filmmaker.
Another highlight of the month will be a re-release of Fear Eats the Soul (1973) on Friday 31 March. Playing on extended run during the season, this was Fassbinder’s international breakthrough. A bold reworking of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, Fear Eats the Soul is an unconventional love story which combines lucid social analysis with devastating emotional power; arguably Fassbinder’s best loved film, it is still, 40 years on, burningly relevant.