Friday, September 01, 2023

A Tribute to Wim Wenders (Telluride Film Festival 2023)

Wim Wenders. Photo: Telluride Film Festival.

Sheridan Opera House, Telluride Film Festival (TFF), Thursday 31 Aug 2023.
A Tribute to Wim Wenders.
Evening opened by Jason Silverman.
Hosted by Rajendra Roy (MoMA).
"50. Silver Medaillon Tribute" clip show of Wim Wenders's films.
Silver Medaillon given by Werner Herzog.
Made possible by a donation from Katrine & Bill Formby.

TFF 2023 program note: " It says something essential about Wim Wenders that, at 78, he’s bringing two new films to Telluride this year. One, the feature PERFECT DAYS, is a work of penetrating stillness, quiet as a meditation, while the other—his documentary ANSELM—uses cutting-edge, 3D, 6K technology to swoop around the monumental provocations of the German artist Anselm Kiefer. The first was shot in 16 days, with a handheld camera, often without rehearsals and picking up images along the way; the other required more than two years of work with cameras mounted on drones and platforms. PERFECT DAYS, unfolding entirely in Japanese, radiates a beautiful simplicity beyond the reach of words; ANSELM centers around a contemporary and compatriot of the director, one known for doing furious battle with the highly specific details of his German past. "

" In both works, however, Wenders is giving us images of a life well lived and the possibility of change. He’s reminding us that we don’t have to be hostage to a world of fluff and distraction and that art can give us the medicine we urgently need. This blend of hopefulness and realism has been his signature through more than fifty years of films such as PARIS, TEXAS, WINGS OF DESIRE and THE BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB: he transports us into heartbreaking stories of fractured families and people living on the streets, and yet he’s constantly offering portraits of others—worried angels, the musicians of Cuba, the global photographer Sebastião Salgado, Pope Francis—who dedicate their lives to trying to relieve the pain. "

" Wenders was, famously, one of the creators of the New German Cinema movement in the 1970s, with his often existential road movies; his examination of loneliness and dreams has taken him from aboriginal Australia to Lisbon. He has worked with some of the leading musicians of our time, given us the transcendent dance performances of Pina Bausch, made films on fashion and architecture, uncovered the soul of Berlin and Tokyo. "

" But all his wide-ranging explorations have ultimately been lit up by a profound concern with our spiritual well-being. He is—to use a word that he has invoked—a “Menschenfreund,” or friend of all humanity. Hirayama, the heart of PERFECT DAYS, offers an almost saintly vision of steadiness and self-erasure; Anselm Kiefer is among the most combative and even swaggering of artists, ensuring we don’t look away from reality. Both, however, refuse to give in to a world of thoughtlessness and carelessness; each has his own way of finding something disciplined and true. In the end, Wim Wenders is one of our greatest singers of possibility. "

–Pico Iyer (TFF 2023)

The program includes a selection of clips, the presentation of the Silver Medallion and an on-stage interview, followed by ANSELM shown in its entirety on Thursday (see opposite page) and PERFECT DAYS (see opposite page) shown in its entirety on Friday. (TFF 2023 program note)

Language: English only.

AA: The deeply moving tribute evening started with an eloquent selection of clips from Alice in den Städten, Der amerikanische Freund, Paris, Texas, Der Himmel über Berlin, The Buena Vista Social Club, Pina, Das Salz der Erde and Alice in den Städten once again.

Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders reminisced their first meeting at the film school where Wim was a student while Werner had already made films, including Lebenszeichen. The lesson that remained from Werner: "break the rules".

The discussion led to Tom Luddy (1943-2023). Wim had bought a hat in order to bare his head in honour of him. Tom introduced Wim to the West, arranged an early Wenders retrospective with two films only, and guided him to get a car and travel to Telluride via Monument Valley. "Paris, Texas would not exist without him". At Moscow Film Festival, Wim was invited to present Paris, Texas in a giant cinema for 1500. The hosts desperately wanted to welcome a big American female star. There was none. Tom found a solution: his wife Monique Montgomery was there, took the stage and received a tremendous applause. Nobody noticed that she does not appear in the movie.

Wenders loves photography, but "nothing escapes painting". Anselm Kiefer and Wenders are agemates, both born in 1945, by the Rhine, on opposite sides. They shared the same childhood experience of reconstruction after the war. 

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