November 7 – 26
One of the most prolific and influential European filmmakers of the second half of the 20th century, Rainer Werner Fassbinder completed nearly 40 feature-length films between 1969 and 1982 (the year he died at age 37) and left behind one of the most cohesive and provocative bodies of work in the history of cinema. In his many melodramas, gangster movies, literary adaptations, and even sci-fi films, he returned obsessively to themes of love, crime, labor, and social and emotional exploitation. He was similarly fixated on his beloved performers, many of whom—Hanna Schygulla, El Hedi ben Salem, Ulli Lommel, and countless others—comprised a repertory company whose fierce, complicated devotion to their visionary leader defies comparison. Part two of our retrospective—the largest in New York City in over a decade—which includes all of Fassbinder’s theatrical movies and many of his television films, along with several works connected with his eternally relevant artistry.
Get Film Comment's Fassbinder digital anthology for just 99¢, featuring 35 years of exclusive coverage.
Forever experimenting with form and tone, Fassbinder ventures into Edward-Albee-meets-Gothic-thriller territory with this tale of a wealthy couple and their respective lovers forced to play a cruel party game by their paralyzed daughter.
Adapted by Tom Stoppard from Nabokov’s novel, Fassbinder's first English-language feature is a riveting portrait of a Russian émigré in 1930s Germany gradually losing his grip on reality.
Fassbinder revisits Sirkian territory with this melodrama about a bourgeois housewife stricken with anxiety, whose breakdown is unfathomable to her family and the clueless doctors she consults.
This bleak exposé of socioeconomic sadomasochism stars Fassbinder himself as a carnival entertainer who becomes a prime target for predatory suitors after he wins the lottery.
One of 11 directors on this omnibus essay film, Fassbinder contributes a scathingly personal short, made in response to the kidnapping and murder of a powerful German magnate (precipitating a series of events known as German Autumn).
Fassbinder’s rarely seen TV production about a couple sucked into an endless cycle of purchases on credit and overtime is an indictment of capitalism that feels timely almost 40 years later.
Unfortunately, the November 14 screening has been canceled. Ticket buyers will be contacted about refunds. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Volker Spengler, a Fassbinder mainstay, gives the performance of a lifetime as Elvira, a transsexual searching for love and finding only rejection in perhaps the director’s most compassionate work.
An unabashed tearjerker in the Hollywood vein about the star-crossed love affair between a German cabaret singer (Hanna Schygulla) and a Swiss-Jewish songwriter (Giancarlo Giannini).
Fassbinder’s homage to The Blue Angel, a tale of a singer-whore corrupting an honest commissioner, attributes the “Economic Miracle” of Germany’s renaissance in the 1950s to venality and vice.
One of Fassbinder’s most praised films, the saga of a poor soldier’s wife who uses her wiles and savvy to rise in business brought him the acclaim and popularity he always sought.
The widow of a factory worker who inexplicably killed his boss’s son and himself is exploited by friends, family, and strangers alike in Fassbinder’s jet-black satire.
A shepherd turns to preaching when he is visited by the Mother of God, but while his support increases, he is filled with a dissatisfaction that can be absolved only by embracing his own self-destruction.
Fassbinder’s swan song, a lurid, semi-surrealist account of a Belgian sailor and his involvement with his brother and the proprietors of a brothel.
In this early film made for television, Fassbinder presents the follies of a pair of Munich-dwelling deadbeats who improbably gain possession of a Peruvian treasure map.
An avant-garde poet with writer’s block and a nagging wife must take drastic measures to make ends meet in Fassbinder’s Theatre of Cruelty–inflected attack on the 1970s German art scene.
With echoes of Madame Bovary, Fassbinder’s account of a Bavarian railway stationmaster and his unfaithful, manipulative wife allegorizes the breakdown of order that ushered in the Third Reich.
Fassbinder’s first and only documentary was shot at Cologne’s “Theatres of the World” festival, with commentary by the director supplementing images of attendees.
A razor-sharp and politically astute take on terrorism as bourgeois diversion, and on how the newest (“Third”) generation of radicals has no particular ideology, making them easy prey for exploitation by the state.
Fassbinder’s take on Sunset Boulevard concerns a once-celebrated film star, now addicted to morphine and kept in thrall to a malicious physician.
New York Premiere
Charting the debauchery of the title character, a dropout who defiles and accosts those who cross his path, Baal showcases three of the era’s most provocative talents working in tandem.
Kinky and perverse, Luchino Visconti’s chronicle of the downfall of a wealthy family in pre-WWII Germany was one of Fassbinder’s favorite films, and a clear inspiration on his later work.
Introduction by Wolf Gremm on November 16, Q&A on November 17.
The final film to star Fassbinder filters dystopian parables like Blade Runner through the West Berlin punk scene, resulting in a uniquely chilling vision of the near future.
Q&A with Wolf Gremm on November 16!
This short and exceedingly rare made-for-TV documentary follows Fassbinder at the end of his career, capturing him both as director (at work on his final film, Querelle) and as actor (in Gremm’s Kamikaze ’89).
Daniel Schmid’s adaptation of Fassbinder’s play about a downtrodden streetwalker in love with her lazy, abusive pimp (played by the writer) is a grim but undeniably haunting summation of the writer’s worldview.
A privileged glimpse into the visionary vortex that was Fassbinder, featuring interviews with the stars of his final film, Querelle, and footage of the director shot just hours before his passing.