Wenders at the Berlinale 2017
Ernst Wilhelm Wenders
14 August 1945
|Occupation||Filmmaker, director, screenwriter, playwright, author, photographer|
(m. 1968; div. 1974)
(m. 1974; div. 1978)
(m. 1979; div. 1981)
(m. 1981; div. 1982)
for The State of Things (1982)
for Paris, Texas (1984)
Cannes Film Festival
Grand Jury Prize
for Faraway, So Close! (1993)
Silver Bear Jury Prize
for The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)
Ernst Wilhelm "Wim" Wenders (German: ['v?m 'v?nd?s]; born 14 August 1945) is a German filmmaker, playwright, author, and photographer. He is a major figure in New German Cinema. Among many honors, he has received three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature: for Buena Vista Social Club (1999), about Cuban music culture; Pina (2011), about the contemporary dance choreographer Pina Bausch; and The Salt of the Earth (2014), about Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.
One of Wenders' earliest honors was a win for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction for his narrative drama Paris, Texas (1984), which also won the Palme d'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. Many of his subsequent films have also been recognized at Cannes, including Wings of Desire (1987), for which Wenders won the Best Director Award at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.
Wenders has been the president of the European Film Academy in Berlin since 1996. Alongside filmmaking, he is an active photographer, emphasizing images of desolate landscapes. He is considered to be an auteur director.
Wenders was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, into a traditionally Catholic family. His father, Heinrich Wenders, was a surgeon. The use of the Dutch name "Wim" is a shortened version of the baptismal name "Wilhelm". As a boy, he took unaccompanied trips to Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum. He graduated from high school in Oberhausen in the Ruhr area. He then studied medicine (1963-64) and philosophy (1964-65) in Freiburg and Düsseldorf. However, he dropped out of university studies and moved to Paris in October 1966 to become a painter. Wenders failed his entry test at France's national film school IDHEC (now La Fémis), and instead became an engraver in the studio of Johnny Friedlander, in Montparnasse. During this time, Wenders became fascinated with cinema, and saw up to five movies a day at the local movie theater.
Set on making his obsession also his life's work, Wenders returned to Germany in 1967 to work in the Düsseldorf office of United Artists. That fall, he entered the "Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München" (University of Television and Film Munich). Between 1967 and 1970 while at the "HFF", Wenders also worked as a film critic for FilmKritik, then the Munich daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Twen magazine, and Der Spiegel.
Wenders completed several short films before graduating from the Hochschule with a feature-length 16mm black-and-white film, Summer in the City (1970).
Wenders began his career during the New German Cinema era of the late 1960s, making his feature directorial debut with Summer in the City (1970). Much of the distinctive cinematography in his movies is the result of a highly productive long-term collaboration with Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller. Some of his more successful and critically acclaimed movies--Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, for example--have been the result of fruitful collaborations with avant-garde authors Peter Handke and Sam Shepard. Handke's novel, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick was adapted for Wenders' second feature film, The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty. Handke co-wrote the script for Wings of Desire and Until the end of the World, both featuring Solveig Dommartin.
Wenders has directed several highly acclaimed documentaries, most notably Buena Vista Social Club (1999), about Cuban musicians, and The Soul of a Man (2003), on American blues. He has also directed a documentary style film on the Skladanowsky brothers, known in English as A Trick of the Light. The Skladanowsky brothers were inventing 'moving pictures' when several others like the Lumière brothers and William Friese-Greene were doing the same. Alongside Buena Vista Social Club his documentaries on Pina Bausch, Pina, and Sebastiao Salgado, The Salt of the Earth also received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
He has also directed many music videos for groups such as U2 and Talking Heads, including "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" and "Sax and Violins". His television commercials include a UK advertisement for Carling Premier Canadian beer.
Wenders' book, Emotion Pictures, a collection of diary essays written while a film student, was adapted and broadcast as a series of plays on BBC Radio 3, featuring Peter Capaldi as Wenders, with Gina McKee, Saskia Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Ricky Tomlinson, dramatised by Neil Cargill.
Wenders was collaborating with artist/journalist and longtime friend Melinda Camber Porter on a documentary feature about his body of work, Wim Wenders - Visions on Film, when Porter died - the film remains incomplete.
Wenders is a member of the advisory board of World Cinema Foundation. The project was founded by Martin Scorsese and aimed at finding and reconstructing world cinema films that have been long neglected. He serves as a Jury Member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.
In 2011 he was selected to stage the 2013 cycle of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festival, a reflection of his capacity to produce imaginative tributes to great works of art. The project fell through when he insisted on filming in 3-D, which the Wagner family found too costly and disruptive.
While promoting his 3-D dance film, Pina, Wenders told the Documentary channel Blog in December 2011 that he has already begun work on a new 3-D documentary, this one about architecture. He also has said that he will only be working in the 3-D film format from now on. Wenders admired the dance choreographer Pina Bausch since 1985, but only with the advent of digital 3-D cinema did he decide that he could sufficiently capture her work on screen.
He will stage director debut for Georges Bizet's opera Les Pêcheurs de perles starring Olga Peretyatko, Francesco Demuro, conducted by Daniel Barenboim at Berlin State Opera in June 2017 (Staatsoper).
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour in May 2018, Wenders indicated that his favorite movie of all time was his film about Pope Francis, and that his entire career had been building up to it. His admiration for the Pope is profound, as he feels that the Pope is doing his best, in a difficult time, in a world full of calamities. When questioned by Amanpour, he indicated that he was born a Catholic but had converted to the Protestant faith, years ago.
Alongside filmmaking, Wim Wenders works with the medium of photography and his poignant images of desolate landscapes engage themes including memory, time, loss, nostalgia and movement. Wenders' long-running artistic project, "Pictures from the Surface of the Earth", began in the early 1980s and was subsequently pursued by the artist for the next twenty years. The initial photographic series in this body of work was titled "Written in the West" which Wenders produced when criss-crossing through the American West in preparation for his film Paris, Texas (1984). This became the starting point for the artist's nomadic journey across the globe, travelling through countries including Germany, Australia, Cuba, Israel and Japan to take photographs which capture the essence of a moment, place or space.
"The Space Between the Characters Can Carry the Load", Collection Ivo Wessel, Weserburg Museum for modern Art, Bremen, DE
Wenders has already received many awards, including the Golden Lion for The State of Things at the Venice Film Festival (1982); the Palme d'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival for his movie Paris, Texas; and Best Direction for Wings of Desire in the 1987 Bavarian Film Awards and the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. In 1993 he won the Bavarian Film Awards for Best Director for Faraway, So Close!. In 2004, he received the Master of Cinema Award of the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg. He was awarded the Leopard of Honour at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2005. In 2012, his dance film Pina was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature of the 84th Academy Awards. Wenders also received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay for the film.
In 2012 the Wim Wenders Foundation was created in Düsseldorf creating a framework to bring together the cinematic, photographic, artistic and literary lifework of Wim Wenders in his native country and to make it permanently accessible to the general public worldwide.
He was presented with the Honorary Golden Bear at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015. In 2016, Wenders received the Großer Kulturpreis of the Sparkassen Culture-Foundation Rhineland, one of the highest endowed cultural honorings in Germany, with previous winners such as photographer legend Hilla Becher, sculptor Tony Cragg, musician Wolfgang Niedecken and director Sönke Wortmann. In 2017, Wenders received the Douglas Sirk Award at the Hamburg Film Festival.
|Year||English title||German title||Notes|
|1970||Summer in the City||First full-length feature film (Dedicated to The Kinks)|
|1972||The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty (UK) or The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (USA)||Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter||Adaptation of a novel by Peter Handke|
|1973||The Scarlet Letter||Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe||Adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne|
|1974||Alice in the Cities||Alice in den Städten||First part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy|
|1975||The Wrong Move||Falsche Bewegung||Second part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy, with Nastassja Kinski|
|1976||Kings of the Road||Im Lauf der Zeit||Third part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy|
|1977||The American Friend||Der Amerikanische Freund||Adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game|
|1980||Lightning Over Water||Documentary about the last days of Nicholas Ray|
|1982||Hammett||Fictional story about Dashiell Hammett, American writer; based on a novel by Joe Gores|
|1982||Room 666||Chambre 666||Short documentary interviews directors on the future of cinema, including Steven Spielberg, Jean-Luc Godard, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Filmed at Cannes|
|1982||Reverse Angle||Short film documents Wenders' disputes with Coppola during Hammett|
|1982||The State of Things||Stand der Dinge|
|1985||Tokyo-Ga||Documentary about Japanese film director Yasujir? Ozu|
|1987||Wings of Desire||Der Himmel über Berlin||Written with Peter Handke. A guardian angel is tempted to prefer human experience over the outsider's immortality.|
|1989||Notebook on Cities and Clothes||Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Städten||Documentary about Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto.|
|1990||Red Hot + Blue||Music video for "Night and Day" performed by U2|
|1991||Until the End of the World||Bis ans Ende der Welt|
|1992||Arisha, the Bear and the Stone Ring||Arisha, der Bär und der steinerne Ring|
|1993||Faraway, So Close!||In weiter Ferne, so nah!||Sequel to Wings of Desire|
|1994||Lisbon Story||Partially a sequel to The State of Things|
|1995||Beyond the Clouds||Jenseits der Wolken||(with Michelangelo Antonioni)|
|1995||A Trick of Light||Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky||Also known as The Brothers Skladanowsky|
|1995||Lumière et compagnie||Anthology film made in collaboration between forty-one international film directors|
|1997||The End of Violence||Am Ende der Gewalt|
|1998||Willie Nelson at the Teatro|
|1999||Buena Vista Social Club||Documentary about Cuban musicians; made with Ry Cooder|
|2000||The Million Dollar Hotel|
|2000||Un matin partout dans le monde||TV Short|
|2001||Souljacker Part 1||Music Video for "Souljacker Pt 1" by Eels|
|2002||Ode to Cologne: A Rock 'N' Roll Film||Viel passiert - Der BAP-Film||Documentary about the Cologne rock group BAP|
|2002||Ten Minutes Older||Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet||Contributed segment "Twelve Miles to Trona"|
|2003||Other Side of the Road||Short|
|2003||The Soul of a Man||Documentary about Blues musicians, from the doc series Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues|
|2004||Land of Plenty||based on a story by Scott Derrickson, with Michelle Williams and John Diehl|
|2005||Don't Come Knocking||Script by Wenders and Sam Shepard who also played the main character|
|2007||Invisibles||Documentary, contributed segment "Invisible Crimes"|
|2007||To Each His Own Cinema||Contributed segment "War in Peace"|
|2008||Palermo Shooting||dedicated to Ingmar Bergman und Michelangelo Antonioni|
|2008||8||Contributed segment "Person to Person"|
|2010||If Buildings Could Talk||Short doc about the Rolex Learning Center|
|2011||Pina||Documentary about the late choreographer Pina Bausch, in 3D, premiered Out of Competition at the Berlin Film Festival|
|2012||Mundo Invisível||segment "Ver ou Não Ver"|
|2014||The Salt of the Earth||Das Salz der Erde||Documentary about photographer Sebastião Salgado|
|2015||Every Thing Will Be Fine||Drama|
|2016||The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez||Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez||based on the play for two persons by Peter Handke, filmed in 3D|
|2017||Submergence||Grenzenlos||Adaptation from war journalist JM Ledgard's novel|
|2018||Pope Francis: A Man of His Word||Papst Franziskus - Ein Mann seines Wortes||Documentary|