Tag Archives: BFI

Rainer Werner Fassbinder at the BFI

Fassbinder on set

RW Fassbinder

April and May 2017

BFI Southbank, London

BFI website

Dead by 37, openly bi-sexual, constantly controversial: Rainer Werner Fassbinder was arguably post-war Germany’s greatest filmmaker. Now the BFI celebrates the maverick director with a major retrospective. Here’s the line-up announcement:

Running from Monday 27 March – Wednesday 31 May, BFI Southbank’s major Fassbinder retrospective will celebrate the constantly controversial and fearless filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, arguably post-war Germany’s greatest director. This extensive retrospective will feature most of the great auteur’s huge body of work, from gangster movies to melodramas, social satires to queer dramas. Fassbinder is perhaps one of the most prolific filmmakers of the 20th century; his first 10 features were astonishingly made in less than two years, and he went on to make another 30 by the time he died young at 37. A fearless artist who knew no taboos, Fassbinder combined scathing social criticism with profound psychological insight.

The season kicked off last month with a special screening of Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978) and an introductory talk Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Wunderkind, Iconoclast, Star by Martin Brady (King’s College London, GSSN), followed by the 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.

Forthcoming highlights in April and May include a Fassbinderian Politics Study Day and The Bitter Tears of Fassbinder’s Women: A Symposium. There is also a Fassbinder collection available on BFI Player+ from 31 March, comprised of 10 of his best-loved films including Fear Eats the Soul (1973), The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) and Fox and His Friends (1974). BFI and Arrow Films, who will be distributing the re-release of Fear Eats the Soul, have also worked together to make a number of the films available across the UK in new DCPs.

An insatiable film addict from early childhood, Fassbinder drew inspiration from the French New Wave and, later, from the Hollywood melodramas of Douglas Sirk and others. Running alongside the season, the BFI’s regular Big Screen Classics series will showcase some of these films; Fassbinder’s Favourites will include Sirk melodramas All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Imitation of Life (1959), pioneering French New Wave films Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962) and Le Signe du lion (Eric Rohmer, 1962), as well as Hollywood classics such as All About Eve (Joseph L Mankiewicz, 1950) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953). The series will also continue in May with further titles Fassbinder has cited as influential to him.

Study Day: Fassbinderian Politics
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films – whether about rebellious housewives, gay hustlers, or communist terrorists – are all deeply political. But he was a contradictory and provocative artist who defied categorisation. At this study day we’ll attempt to reveal what Fassbinder really stood for. Through thoughtful presentations and engaging discussion, we’ll examine his preoccupation with marginal figures (and intersectional solidarity among them), 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. Join us to discover a radical filmmaker whose complex politics have profound relevance today.
Tickets £6.50
Sat 22 April 12:00-15:30 NFT3

Fassbinder: Television Pioneer
From ambitious series like Berlin Alexanderplatz to TV-movie melodramas, Fassbinder embraced television as a medium and a platform. In this talk, film scholar Mattias Frey (University of Kent) explores how Fassbinder exploited TV’s artistic potential, how the funding it offered made his career possible (he would surely be making Netflix series today), and how he seized upon TV as a way of communicating provocative ideas to a
mass audience, in their own homes.
Tickets £6
Tue 2 May 20:30 Library

The Bitter Tears of Fassbinder’s Women: A Symposium
TRT 210min
Stories of female desire, pain, and resilience are at the heart of Fassbinder’s films. The glamorous divas, heartbroken cleaners, rebellious housewives, and transsexual sex workers that populate his cinematic world were forged in the heat of vital (and sometimes turbulent) creative collaborations with female actors who would return again and again to work with him. Join us at this essential symposium to explore Fassbinder’s
complex creative and personal entanglements with key female actor-collaborators (such as Hanna Schygulla, Margit Carstensen, Brigitte Mira and Irm Hermann), and the mixture of cruelty, fascination and empathy he showed for his vital and compelling female characters.
Sat 13 May 12:00-15:30 NFT3

Philosophical Screens: Repression and Release in Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette
TRT 70min
In the latest in our popular series exploring cinema through a philosophical lens, we consider Fassbinder’s spiky, provocative critique of German bourgeois values. Chinese Roulette depicts a savage world riven with infidelity and loathing, where people cruelly goad each other into revealing their deepest secret thoughts and desires – but what truths does Fassbinder unearth? Join film philosophers William Brown, John Ó Maoilearca and Catherine Wheatley as we explore how Fassbinder gives expression to the darkest chambers of the German soul via his repressed characters and their relation to space, objects and each other.
Free to ticket-holders of Chinese Roulette on Wed 10 May (but must be booked via the box office due to limited capacity), otherwise £6
Wed 10 May 20:00 Blue Room

BFI Course: The Many Faces of Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Martin Brady and Erica Carter (King’s College London, GSSN) will co-ordinate guest speakers and present sessions themselves in this eight-week course to accompany our Fassbinder retrospective. Illustrated discussions and lectures will take a closer look at Fassbinder’s obsession with Hollywood genres, the stars he cast and the West German context from which his films emerged – from student revolts, through queer
culture to terrorism! Beginners and experts welcome.
Course fee £96, concs £80 *No session on Thu 18 May
Every Thu* from 13 April – 8 June 18:30-20:30 Studio

Full listings and booking details for all the films included in the Fassbinder season as well as ‘Big Screen Classics: Fassbinder’s Favourits’ can be found on the BFI website.

BFI London Film Festival 2015 Preview

LFF 2015

59th BFI London Film Festival

7 – 18 October 2015

London, UK

LFF website

Running from 7 to 18 October with screenings spread across central London and a number of participating local cinemas, the 2015 edition of the BFI London Film Festival opens with Sarah Gavron’s women’s rights drama Suffragette and closes with Danny Boyle’s biopic of Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the tech-wizard and former Apple CEO. In between, the line-up is packed with oddities, thrills and freaks, and some fine visceral horror.

Our top picks this year include festival hit The Forbidden Room, the latest offering from Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, who co-directed this busy, chaotic and occasionally perplexing nightmare in which plot, characters and locations constantly flow into one another enigmatically. We also highly recommend Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier’s impressive follow-up to Blue Ruin, the dazzling 140-minute one-take-wonder Victoria, directed by German director Sebastian Schipper, and Eva Husson’s striking first feature Bang Gang, which premiered in Toronto last month.

Other titles seen on the festival circuit include Robert Egger’s underwhelming The Witch, Yorgos Lanthimos’s bizarre first English-language film The Lobster, Alex van Warmerdam’s twisted contract killer comedy Schneider vs Bax and Takashi Miike’s new action fantasy Yakuza Apocalypse.

We look forward to Sion Sono’s spaced-out Love & Peace, along with Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel High Rise and Evolution, the long-awaited second feature by Lucile Hadžihalilović (Innocence). Also worth checking out are German body horror Der Nachtmahr, Spanish necrophilia drama The Corpse of Anna Fritz, horror Western Bone Tomahawk, Danish chiller What We Become, and The Invitation, a disturbing chamber piece from Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. Plus, screening as part of ‘Sonic’ strand, we’ll be taking a look at Ruined Heart: Another Love Story between a Criminal and a Whore by punk filmmaker Khavn De La Cruz and John Pirozzi’s compelling documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock’n’Roll.

The archive screenings include Make More Noise, a selection representing women on film in the first decades of the 20th century, alongside a restoration of Edward Dmytryk’s stylish 1959 Western Warlock, Jean Cocteau’s Gothic fantasy La Belle et la Bête (1946), Thorold Dickenson’s Gaslight (1940), and Joan Fontaine in her last big-screen appearance in the Hammer production The Witches (1966).

On 9 October 2015, there will be a special screening of three new 35mm prints of films by the Brothers Quay, alongside a new short by Christopher Nolan featuring the twin filmmakers ever inspiring work. Plus, in the Experimenta strand, Anthology Film Archives offer a sampler programme of an eclectic array of artists active in New York City from 1975-1990.

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the LFF website.

Pamela Jahn

BFI London Film Festival 2014 Preview

LFF 2014 festival identity

BFI London Film Festival

8-19 October 2014

London, UK

LFF website

This year’s 58th edition of the BFI London Film Festival promises an exciting line-up filled, as ever, with a mixture of high-profile gala features, previous festival winners and hits, and a vast number of smaller gems that are unlikely to be coming to a cinema near you any time soon.

Running from 8 to 19 October 2014, the festival opens with the European premiere of The Imitation Game and closes with Brad Pitt tank-confined thriller Fury, with plenty of thrills on offer in between.

Our top picks include The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland’s follow-up to his eerie Berberian Sound Studio and eccentric Berlinale winner Black Coal, Thin Ice.

Featuring some of our favourites from this year’s Cannes and Etrange Festival, the line-up also includes Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe, Ana Lily Amirpour’s Iranian vampire tale A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Aleksei German’s final sci-fi epic Hard to Be a God, David Robert Mitchell’s creepy, intelligent thriller It Follows and Lisandro Alonso’s hallucinatory 19th-century meta-Western Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen as a dizzy captain who follows his missing daughter into an existential void.

Straight from TIFF, we also recommend Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo, which delivers a frenetic look at the rise and fall of 1980s action-exploitation studio Cannon Films, and Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s shocking The Tribe, whereas Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, which attempts to recreate the last day in the life of the Italian director, is too elliptical and confounding to really satisfy.

Among the films we look forward to are The World of Kanako, a new stylish and provocative thriller from Confessions director Tetsuya Nakashima, Ning Hao’s racy Spaghetti Western homage No Man’s Land and the Misery-style Spanish thriller Shrew’s Nest, as well as a 40th anniversary screening of Tobe Hooper’s restored horror masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

And we will definitely be checking out In the Basement, the new documentary by Austrian enfant terrible Ulrich Seidl, in which he investigates the many strange things his fellow countrymen do in their cellars. Also worthy of note are Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard, Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring and the Nordic werewolf fantasy When Animals Dream.

Finally, for everyone who hasn’t had a chance to see it on the big screen yet, the LFF’s popular archive screenings will include a painstaking restoration of Sergei Paradjanov‘s 1968 masterpiece The Colour of Pomegranates, along with other treasures such as King Hu’s Dragon Inn and restored 1934 silent film The Goddess, starring the iconic Ruan Lingyu.

Pamela Jahn

For more information about the programme and how to book tickets visit the LFF website.