As well as shining new light on emerging filmmakers, photographers, artists, this year we’re also looking back, at some of the overlooked filmmakers of film history. First up, one of my all time personal favourites – Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the most prolific, tragic, innovative, tender, and ferocious filmmaking forces of all time. He died young, at 37, from a combination of cocaine, barbiturates, alcohol and a nonstop schedule. He had been destroying himself for years, overworking and overconsuming in a mad attempt to cram as much experience into as short a time as possible. When he was found, the unfinished script for a version of ‘Rosa Luxemburg’ was lying next to him. So boundless was his drive and creativity that, throughout his downward spiral and even in the moment of his death, Fassbinder never ceased to be productive. He directed 44 films in 18 years. Disregarding the shorts, the numbers are still insane (39 features in 14 years!). That includes both theatrical features and TV productions, some of which are over four hours (and then there’s the 15 hour mega-masterpiece ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ – now released as a series).
When I’m not feeling inferior as a filmmaker for only making one feature film a year, I can’t help but be struck by how much of a range there was in his filmography, and also how human they all were. Other filmmakers like Michael Curtiz (director of ‘Casablanca’, and over 100 credits on IMDB) may have produced unbelievable amounts of films, but unfortunately the vast majority of them (aside from the glaringly obvious masterpieces) were fairly terrible. The films of Fassbinder, once he really got going, were beautiful, powerful, masterpieces, and unfortunately, like most foreign films, are often overlooked. Influenced by the French New Wave, American Film Noir, Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Melodramas of Douglas Sirk, and his own unstable lifestyle, Fassbinder’s work demands more attention. A great inspiration on my own work. Please consider checking out his films.
Below is a brief documentary on the work of Fassbinder:
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant // Ali: Fear Eats the Soul // Berlin Alexanderplatz // The Marriage of Maria Braun // World on a Wire // Fox and Friends