Love Is Colder Than Death: The Cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder

10/4/13 to 12/15/13

Seemingly overnight, Fassbinder (1945–1982) went from enfant terrible to the driving force behind the New German Cinema, and became one of the most influential artists of the postwar European scene. This major retrospective offers Bay Area filmgoers a chance to get to know-or reacquaint themselves with-the remarkable richness of Fassbinder's career as a film director.

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Past Films

  • In a Year of 13 Moons

    • Sunday, December 15 5:15pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1978). Imported Print! Fassbinder regular Volker Spengler here takes his star turn as a transsexual beset by doubts about her sex-change operation-only the most profound in a lifetime of futile gestures toward love. “Grotesque, arbitrary, sentimental and cold as ice-Its only redeeming feature is genius” (Vincent Canby). (124 mins)

  • Querelle

    • Saturday, December 14 8:40 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany/France, 1982). Imported Print! Fassbinder adapts Jean Genet's notorious novel of a sailor, a waterfront brothel, a madam, and her husband. “An intensely personal statement that is the most uncompromising portrayal of male homosexual sensibility to come from a major filmmaker” (Penny Ashbrook). (108 mins)

  • Martha

    • Thursday, December 12 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1973). Imported Print! Student Pick! “A virgin German librarian in her thirties meets a bridge builder while vacationing in Rome; it's a match made in heaven-she's a masochist, he's a sadist….My favorite Fassbinder movie” (Jonathan Rosenbaum). (116 mins)

  • Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?

    • Friday, December 6 7 pm

    Michael Fengler, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1969). Imported Print! A gritty case history of a bourgeois office worker who “without warning” goes berserk, Herr R. predates Fassbinder's Sirk-influenced period and almost seems to reflect an influence of Andy Warhol's cinema in its seemingly improvised, quietly brilliant dialogues. (88 mins)

  • Despair

    • Friday, December 6 8:50 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1977). A chocolate factory owner begins to distance himself from “his self” in early 1930s Berlin in Fassbinder's dry filming of a Nabokov novel, wittily adapted by Tom Stoppard. Dirk Bogarde stars. (119 mins)

  • Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven

    • Saturday, November 30 8:30 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1975). A factory worker goes postal, making his widow one old and very confused poster girl for the Left. A brittle Brechtian parable of political exploitation that had the distinction of being banned from the Berlin Film Festival. Can't take a joke, or even a tragedy. (115 mins)

  • Veronika Voss

    • Sunday, November 24 6 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1982). "Like most of Fassbinder's best films, this is about a loser: a fading movie star of the 1940s who finds the 1950s bearable only with the help of morphine. Shot in gleaming B&W . . . reminding us, long after Melville and his whale, that white can be as terrifying as black" (NY Film Festival). (104 mins)

  • Lola

    • Saturday, November 23 8:45 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1981). An upright building commissioner (Armin Mueller-Stahl) falls in love with a corrupt cabaret singer (Barbara Sukowa) in this very loose remake of The Blue Angel. “One of Fassbinder's warmest, with a close, affectionate direction of actors unlike anything he'd ever attempted” (Dave Kehr). (113 mins) 

  • Fox and His Friends

    • Friday, November 15 8:35pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1974). Fassbinder is the star of this powerful psychodrama in the guise of a fable, in which a good-natured prole wins the lottery and is skillfully, ruthlessly exploited by his wealthy boyfriend. A great example of the director's vision of "love as the most insidious instrument of repression." (123 mins)

  • Satan's Brew

    • Saturday, November 9 8:40 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1976). "Fassbinder doesn't make 'comedies' . . . he makes ironies, and he's never been more brilliantly ironic than in this examination of a sadistic anti-hero," played by Kurt Raab (Soho Weekly News). (113 mins)

  • World on a Wire

    • Saturday, November 2 6:30 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1973). Fassbinder's legendary made-for-television science-fiction epic. An evil cybernetics company creates another version of our world; one investigator soon wonders, though, which world is real? This existential head-trip anticipated The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Inception. (204 mins plus intermission)

  • Chinese Roulette

    • Friday, November 1 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1976). Student Pick! Fassbinder out-Buñuels the master in this camp satire on the haute bourgeoisie starring Anna Karina and Margit Carstensen. "The humor fits the cruelty like a boot fits a groin" (Time Out). (86 mins)

  • The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant

    • Tuesday, October 29 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1972). The well-crafted world of a famous designer is slowly unraveled by the treachery of love. "A haute-couture lesbian pajama party with silken, knowing dialogue" (David Denby, New Yorker). (124 mins)

  • The Merchant of Four Seasons

    • Friday, October 25 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1971). The story of a hapless fruit peddler told as "a virtuoso balance of soap opera, social comedy, irony, politics, farce, and brilliant ensemble acting" (New Yorker Films). (89 mins)

  • Fear of Fear

    • Friday, October 25 8:50 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1975). Margit Carstensen portrays a young mother in the grip of anxiety. Vincent Canby called this small film "perfectly sculpted...a distillation of reality-a dream in which everything counts." (88 mins)

  • Beware of a Holy Whore

    • Friday, October 18 8:40 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1970). Fassbinder's version of a film crew beset with personality clashes and other problems. With Eddie Constantine, Hanna Schygulla, Werner Schroeter, Lou Castel, and Fassbinder. (103 mins)

  • The American Soldier

    • Friday, October 18 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1970). Fassbinder called this film about a Vietnam vet in Munich "a study of a perfect killer." David Denby called it "a film esthete's dream of a gangster movie, all languorous gesture and sullen aggression." (80 mins)

  • I Only Want You to Love Me

    • Sunday, October 13 7pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1975). The story of a depressed bricklayer desperate to win the approval and love he has been denied through his childhood. "A grim Germanic variation on a classic theme that can never bear too much repeating: Can't buy me love" (Stephen Holden, NY Times). (104 mins)

  • The Marriage of Maria Braun

    • Saturday, October 12 8:30 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1978). Hanna Schygulla became the new Dietrich with her ironic performance as an emblem of Germany's postwar economic miracle. "Brilliantly complex...splendid and mysterious" (NY Times). (120 mins)

  • Katzelmacher

    • Friday, October 11 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1969). Imported Print! The name means "troublemaker," fitting for Fassbinder, who cast himself as a despised immigrant worker, the butt of bored youth in a Munich backwater. "A gritty, low-budget tour de force" (Village Voice). (88 mins)

  • Gods of the Plague

    • Friday, October 11 8:50 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1969). A lowlife gangster flick in which the camera gets all the best lines. With Schygulla, Von Trotta, Ingrid Caven. (91 mins)

  • Effi Briest

    • Tuesday, October 8 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1972/74). Fontane's nineteenth-century novel adapted into a classic and elegant film. "A kaleidoscopic perspective on the moral attitudes taken by all those involved with Effi...delicately and willfully portrayed by Hanna Schygulla" (Judy Stone, SF Chronicle). (141 mins)

  • Love Is Colder Than Death

    • Friday, October 4 7 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1969). "A restless and sombre foray into the black-and-white world of the Hollywood gangster film as interpreted by B-movie mavericks (and) stripped bare by Fassbinder" (Time Out). (88 mins)

  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

    • Friday, October 4 8:50 pm

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1973). The unlikely love between a washerwoman in her sixties and a Moroccan guest worker twenty years her junior is the subject of Fassbinder's bitter and touching homage to Douglas Sirk. (93 mins)