Wim Wender’s lessons at the Festival Toute la memoire du mondeBy: Chloë Roddick
As part of the 6th Festival Toute la memoire du monde, which took place between March 7 – 11 in Paris, celebrated German director Wim Wenders gave a Masterclass to a sold-out screen at the Cinematheque francaise.
Wenders began his career during the New German Cinema era in the late 1960s, making his feature film debut with Summer in the City in 1970, a film that he felt was too heavily indebted to Cassavetes, and too long. It was Alice in the Cities, the director suggested, that consolidated his own, unique style as a director and convinced him to keep making movies. The film is “unlike any other film that had been made before”, a brooding road movie that follows a German journalist (Rudiger Vogler) who travels across Germany and the USA with a young girl, in search of her grandparents.
Wenders went on to make a series of seminal and celebrated works over the next six decades, including Alice in the Cities (1974), Kings of the Road (1976), The American Friend (1977), Paris, Texas (1984), Tokyo-Ga (1985), Wings of Desire (1987), Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Pina (2011) and The Salt of the Earth (co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014).
In 2012 he set up an organization, the Wim Wenders Stiftung, dedicated to bringing together his cinematic, photographic, artistic and literary lifework and making it permanently accessible to the general public worldwide. Since 2012 the Foundation has digitally restored over 15 feature films, including Alice in the Cities, Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas (all of which were screened in Paris as part of the Toute la memoire du monde Festival).
At the master class, Wenders spoke of his films as his ¨children¨, and suggested that the restored films had rediscovered their youth in the process of being restored. His films, he said, no longer belong to him, but to the audience that sees them. “A film only exists in the eyes of the spectator”, he said, going on to tell a story about a screening of his first feature Summer in the City at which he realized some 20 minutes in that he was the only spectator. He went up to the projection booth, realized that it too was empty, so turned off the projector and went home. “Did the film even exist if I was the only person watching it?”.