Still Life with Fassbinder: A Master Filmmaker, Frame by Frame

A recent exhibition at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, oriented around the work of writer, director and producer Rainer Werner Fassbinder, provided a unique opportunity to consider the still image isolated from its original context. Fassbinder, after all, is one of very few filmmakers who have established a visual vocabulary so distinctive that it might be identified by a single frame. Both a theatrical retrospective of Fassbinder’s work and a gallery exhibition, featuring primary materials from the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation’s archives, Fassbinder NOW argues for the German iconoclast’s relevance to contemporary art, spotlighting kindred work by Tom Greens, Runa Islam, Maryam Jafri, Jesper Just, Jeroen de Rijke Willem de Rooij, and Ming Wong.

As illustrated in Fassbinder NOW, the filmmaker’s singular sensibility was most keenly represented in the dozen or so melodramas he created between 1971 and 1975, movies like The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) and Ali: Fear Eats

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