Photograph: Juliane Lorenz and RWF during the filming of BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1979) / © Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation (RWFF)
JULIANE MARIA LORENZ IS A HIGHLY ACCLAIMED film editor who lived and worked with the legendary German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder from 1976 until his death in 1982 (and, thereafter, with directors like Werner Schroeter, Oskar Roehler and Christoph Schlingensief). She now serves as the president and CEO of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation in Berlin, and has produced major retrospectives of Fassbinder's work in Germany (1992), the US (1997/1998), and France (2005).
In this exclusive memoir written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lorenz shares her thoughts on Fassbinder's work in television, including his epic science fiction adaptation World on a Wire. The latter film was recently restored under Lorenz's supervision and premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and showed for a week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this past April. Its West Coast premiere is this weekend at LACMA.
Translator: Joe O'Donnell
I first met Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1976, when I worked as an assistant editor on his film Chinese Roulette. I had, at that time, seen exactly one of his two dozen or so films. Growing up in the little spa town of Bad Wörishofen in southwestern Germany, I had no opportunity at all to see new European cinema or U.S. classics, and certainly no New German Cinema. The first Fassbinder film I saw was Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1973), around the age of 16, when it was shown late one night on German TV. I was not even aware then that it was a Fassbinder film, but I remember the enormous impact it had on me in the midst of a painful and complicated adolescence. By the time I saw my second Fassbinder film, three years later, I was already involved in the making of one. From that time on I became an "addict."
Indeed, at that time it was surprisingly difficult to see Fassbinder films in Germany. Although by the mid seventies Fassbinder's films had already found an audience in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere, the established German film community did not hold a very high opinion of his work. Only a few people were convinced that this scriptwriter, director, and producer, who had already made some 25 films, was or would become an important filmmaker whose work would ultimately have a deep impact on his country's cinematic tradition and was in fact already providing a key to understanding the development of 20th-century German history. Also important is the fact that although Fassbinder was putting out two to three films a year — in 1970 he actually made seven — there were as yet no systematic efforts to organize retrospectives of his work. This was because there was, and still is, no established tradition of German film retrospectives, except in the case of nonprofit organizations such as the Arsenal in Berlin, founded by the Friends of...