On the road, up on the roof

A conversation with Wim Wenders.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Wim Wenders with Anne-Katrin Titze
Wim Wenders with Anne-Katrin Titze Photo: Claire Brunel

The director of recent documentaries Pina on the late great choreographer poet Pina Bausch and the Oscar nominated The Salt Of The Earth with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado on master photographer Sebastião Salgado, is in New York for Wim Wenders: Portraits Along The Road, the first stop for a major retrospective of his films. Wenders has many long-term collaborations along the way including Peter Handke and Nick Cave who will appear with Reda Kateb (great in David Oelhoffen's Albert Camus adaptation, Far From Men, opposite Viggo Mortensen) and Sophie Semin in his latest film, The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez (Les Beaux Jours D’Aranjuez).

We also talked about how in Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre the poster of Wings Of Desire made it into a dream sequence and Wim's Film4Climate involvement.

In the elevator on my way to meet Wim, Donata Wenders and I had a brief chat, before I emerged on the rooftop overlooking lower Manhattan with a sky as brightly blue as the filmmaker's sneakers.

Film4Climate supporter Wim Wenders with his new bracelet
Film4Climate supporter Wim Wenders with his new bracelet Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Anne-Katrin Titze: Let's begin with the movie you just finished this summer and then, through Nick Cave maybe, move backwards to Until The End Of The World. Tell me about your latest collaboration with Peter Handke, The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez.

Wim Wenders: It's a text that Peter wrote last year in French and I considered doing it on stage. But then I realised, it's a man and a woman talking. It's a long dialogue. He called it a summer dialogue and in a way it's the last dialogue between a man and a woman before the end of the world.

AKT: Before the end of the world?

WW: Yeah. And the stage is not really my cup of tea and I liked that it was in nature. Instead of having nature on stage, I thought it was going to be so much nicer to have real nature. So I proposed to Peter that I would rather do it outside, outdoors with these two actors. Reda Kateb is one of the actors and the other one is Sophie Semin. There's a guest part by Peter Handke himself - he plays the gardener. And there's a guest part by Nick Cave - he plays one song in the film.

AKT: He also did music for Far From Men, the film Reda Kateb stars in, correct?

WW: Right. Yes, they knew each other but that was a strange coincidence. They knew each other a little bit. Of course, Nick and I go back a long time. Ever since 1986 we know each other.

AKT: And you go back with Peter Handke even longer.

WW: Peter is my oldest friend, yeah. I already did a short film with Peter in 1968.

AKT: Connect4Climate gave me this bracelet. As a member of the initiative Film4Climate, I am sure you got one, too?

A discussion with Wim Wenders on Pina following the 11:00am screening at the IFC tomorrow.
A discussion with Wim Wenders on Pina following the 11:00am screening at the IFC tomorrow. Photo: Donata Wenders

WW: Yeah, I think I wore mine too much.

AKT: Do you want another one? [I hand him another green bracelet I brought with me.]

WW: Yes, anytime. Thank you.

AKT: There is a very interesting dream sequence in Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre. Have you seen it?

WW: I've heard about it. I haven't seen it yet. I know about it.

AKT: I believe they are using the Wings Of Desire poster for that sequence.

WW: Yes, he actually informed me at the time - which I thought was very nice.

AKT: It's a very interesting scene. The filmmaker [Margherita Buy] has a nightmare about this long queue of people lining up in front of a cinema - everybody is on that line, including her dying mother and younger self. I don't think the poster of the movie has a title but it shows Bruno Ganz with wings.

WW: Ah, it suggests that.

The IFC Center in New York is currently hosting Wim Wenders: Portraits Along The Road through September 24. Wim Wenders this afternoon at 4:15 will participate in a discussion; Liquid Space: A Conversation on 3D. On Monday, September 7, following a screening at 11:00am of Pina in 3D, there will be a Q&A.

The retrospective will tour to Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Houston, Austin and Vancouver.

Coming up, an inspection of Until the End of the World "Director's Cut" with Wim Wenders.

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