Werner Schroeter

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Werner Schroeter
Werner Schroeter.jpg
Born (1945-04-07)7 April 1945
Georgenthal, Germany
Died 12 April 2010(2010-04-12) (aged 65)
Hesse, Germany
Occupation Film director
Screenwriter
Years active 19672008

Werner Schroeter (7 April 1945 – 12 April 2010) was a German film director, screenwriter, and opera director known for his stylistic excess.[1][2] Schroeter has been cited by Rainer Werner Fassbinder as a personal influence and on German cinema at large.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Schroeter started out as an underground filmmaker in 1967. Garnering a small cult following, the director also made his mark on the international festival circuit. Defying categorization, his films lie somewhere between avant-garde and art cinema.[4] Magdalena Montezuma was a German underground star that became his muse until her death in 1985. Other notable actors to star in his films include: Bulle Ogier, Carole Bouquet, and Isabelle Huppert.[3]

After attending the Film Festival at Knokke, Belgium in 1967, Schroeter made his first 8mm film, Maria Callas Portrait, that consists of animated stills of Callas overlaid with the sound of her singing.[3] Eika Katappa was his first feature, which mixes pop and opera. The film was self-financed and won the Joseph von Sternberg prize for “the most idiosynchratic film” at the 1969 Mannheim Film Festival.[5]

His “total cinema” films were predominantly produced by Das kleine Fernsehspiel (“The Little Television Play”), a small experimental department of the German public-service station. The company supported some of Schroeter’s most controversial projects including: The Bomber Pilot (70), Salome (71), Macbeth (71), and Goldflocken (76). Kingdom of Naples marked the director’s shift toward more plot driven films, commenting: “it is much more radical to play with the content than with the aesthetics of the image. The era of independence is over. Our society has not fulfilled the promises hoped for around ’68-’70.”[6] The film won many prizes domestically and internationally and was his first commercial release[3]

Portrait by Reginald Gray Paris. 1974.

Schroeter had also worked in film as a producer, cinematographer, editor and actor. In the later function he appeared in several films directed by his friend Rainer Werner Fassbinder, including Beware of a Holy Whore (1971), and a number of theatre productions. During the second half of the 80s, Schroeter became widely known as a theater and opera director both in Germany and abroad, returning to filmmaking in 1990 with Malina, a literary adaptation starring Isabelle Huppert based on Ingeborg Bachmann’s novel. The film won the German Film Award in Gold. Deux also stars (and was written for) Huppert and premiered at Cannes in 2002, but didn’t get German distribution.

His 1980 film Palermo oder Wolfsburg, telling the story of a Sicilian guest worker in Germany, won the Golden Bear at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival,[7] while his 1991 production Malina was entered into that year's Cannes Film Festival.[8]

Although he is mainly known for elaborate and excessive camp fables, the director also made some hard-hitting documentaries including Smiling Star (83) and For Example, Argentina (83-85) about the Marcos regime in the Philippines and the Galtieri military dictatorship in Argentina, respectively.[9]

At the time of his death, Schroeter had been organizing a photography exhibit with art dealer friend Christian Holzfuss featuring his own work, most of which were manipulated portraits of the many actresses he had worked with throughout the years. In 2011, a documentary about the director was made by Elfi Mikesch, a close friend and collaborator, entitled, Mondo Lux: The Visual Worlds of Werner Schroeter [3]

Personal life[edit]

In the 1960s, Schroeter worked with Rosa von Praunheim, who is also gay.[10] Schroeter also worked as a theater and opera director, in Germany and elsewhere. In the late 1970s Schroeter met the Irish artist Reginald Gray at a collection of Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. Gray painted a portrait of Schroeter.[11]

Filmography[edit]

Shorts[edit]

Documentaries[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary New York Times, 22 April 2010; page A26.
  2. ^ Obituary London Guardian, 23 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sieglohr, Ulrike. "Divine Rapture". Film Comment. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Stieglohr, Ulrike. "Divine Rapture". Film Comment. 
  5. ^ Steighlohr, Ulrike. "Divine Rapure". Film Comment. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Steiglohr, Ulrike. "Divine Rapture". Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Berlinale 1980: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Malina". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  9. ^ Sieglohr, Ulrike. "Divine Rapture". Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  10. ^ Aldrich, Robert F.; Garry Wotherspoon (2001). Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II. Routledge. p. 336. ISBN 0-415-22974-X. 
  11. ^ Portrait of Werner Schroeter by Reginald Gray
  • Langford, Michelle. Allegorical Images: Tableau, Time and Gesture in the Cinema of Werner Schroeter. ISBN 1-84150-138-7.

External links[edit]