SIFF Says:Rainer Werner Fassbinder—enfant terrible, obsessive workaholic, and one of the major auteurs of the 20th century—is the subject of a comprehensive biographical portrait crafted from well-chosen excerpts of the director’s work and remarkable, previously unseen interview footage. Danish author-director Christian Braad Thomsen, whose 15-year friendship with Fassbinder spanned the exact length of the auteur’s career, explores the psychological underpinnings of such cinematic masterpieces as THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT (1972) and ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974), as well as the more than sixty other feature films, telefilms, TV series, and shorts of a brief but incredibly prolific career. Equally prominent here are the actors with whom Fassbinder worked—and had scandalously torrid affairs—including Hanna Schygulla, Gunther Kaufmann, Ingrid Caven, Kurt Raab, Gottfried John, Irm Hermann, and Harry Baer—some of whom appear in present-day interviews. Sure to delight both longtime fans and a whole new generation of fans-to-be, FASSBINDER: TO LOVE WITHOUT DEMANDS brings to life one of the most fascinating filmmakers of our time.
No one turns up for a documentary about Rainer Werner Fassbinder expecting a trip to the seashore, but this is arduous material. And like so many of the old degenerate genius’s films, totally worth it. Christian Braad Thomsen gazes through a Freudian lens that accounts for the deplorable nature, but also contextualizes the indefatigable talent. Colleagues line up to tell you what a bastard he was, and that they kept coming back for as much as he would give them. (Speaking of Freud…) It’s all troubling but riveting—’twas ever thus with RWF. (SEAN NELSON)
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