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e-dition march 22


wim wenders & pina bausch: 3+ dimensions

keith gallasch: 2011 festival of german film


Wim Wenders, Pina Wim Wenders, Pina
IN A PROGRAMMING COUP FOR THE 2011 FESTIVAL OF GERMAN FILM, THE GOETHE-INSTITUTE AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE AND HOPSCOTCH FILMS HAVE SECURED THE AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE SCREENING OF WIM WENDERS' PINA, A 3-D FEATURE-LENGTH FILM TRIBUTE TO THE DANCE THEATRE REVOLUTIONARY, PINA BAUSCH, WHO DIED IN 2009. THE FILM'S WORLD PREMIERE WAS AT THIS YEAR'S BERLIN BERLINALE.

After being trained by Kurt Joos at the multidisciplinary Folkwang Hochschule and subsequently performing with major international choreographers, in 1973 Bausch was appointed, by Joos, as head of the Wuppertal Ballet, which she renamed Tanztheater Wuppertal, initiating both the revolutionary dance theatre phenomenon and the company she led until her death. The term tanztheater had originated with Rudolf Laban in the 1920s to express a desire to escape from the technicalities of dance into a greater range of expression: it was Bausch who fulfilled this vision, extending the possibilities of dance and embracing performative means outside of it.

Wim Wenders, Pina Wim Wenders, Pina
For many of us whose first encounter with Bausch's mysterious works was at the 1982 Adelaide Festival, the profound experience of Kontakthof, Blue Beard and 1980 remains indelibly felt in body and mind—our recall confirmed by photographer William Yang's acutely empathetic documentation and the host of video material now found in online tributes. Wim Wenders, on September 4, 2009 at a memorial service for Bausch aptly said of her, "She showed us [a] way to overcome our fears and to not feel imprisoned in our bodies any more."

Bausch's works often made enormous demands on dancers and audiences alike. They were performances informed by dance but not always danced, painfully compulsive in their repetitiveness and in their sustained images of cruelty, panic and passion. The unreal worlds they conjured seemed astonishingly real and increasing familiar as each Bausch reverie endured into timelessness and we grew to know the faces, bodies and moods of people who seemed to become more than performers.

Bausch's best works were nothing less than sublime—fearfully beautiful, intensely visceral, lyrical, alarmingly unpredictable, turning from anger and cruelty to compassion and communality with an inherent strangeness that eschewed sentimentality and story-telling comforts.

But Bausch wasn't alone in the 1970s and 80s as a radical artist: like her compatriots Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders (born 1945, Bausch 1940) and Botho Strauss—and in other ways, the hyper-story-teller Rainer Werner Fassbinder—she conjured strange worlds that didn't reflect so much as wilfully distort our own, giving them back to us anew.

Wim Wenders, Pina Wim Wenders, Pina
Wim Wenders is now best known as a documentary filmmaker but his early feature films, like The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty (1971, with co-writer Peter Handke), Alice in the Cities (1973), Kings of the Road (1976), The American Friend (1977), The State of Things (1982) and Wings of Desire (1987) are, like Bausch's works, the immersive creations of a laterally-minded, utterly distinctive and innovative artist.

Wenders was working with Bausch on the film when she died. Shot in the streets of the industrial city of Wuppertal (where Bausch worked and lived for 35 years) with members of her company, the film also includes especially recorded performances of some of the choreographer’s best known works: Café Müller, Le Sacre Du Printemps, Vollmond and Kontakthof.

Wim Wenders' website includes a Pina trailer and a 24-minute interview with the filmmaker. You'll find even more about the film and Pina Bausch at the pina-film website.

The one-off festival screening in 3D in the presence of director Wim Wenders (with Q&A) shows only in Sydney. Doubtless a cinema season will follow—but when? Catch it now, even if you've never seen a Pina Bausch work.

RealTime issue #101 Feb-March 2011 pg. web

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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