WIM WINS: Wim Wenders’s films capture the transcendent — angels walking the earth, dancers negotiating space, people moving together through time. His works have been favorites at the Berlinale for decades, and on Thursday the German director was lauded with the festival’s award for lifetime achievement, the Honorary Golden Bear.
Ten of Wenders films, from 1972’s “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick,” to 1987’s “Wings of Desire,” to 2011’s “Pina,” have been screening throughout the festival’s Homage section. His latest, “Everything Will be Fine,” which somehow unites James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg, family tragedy, and 3-D, debuted at the Berlinale earlier this week, though it is not in competition.
Events throughout the week were held to honor the Dusseldorf-born, Berlin-based director, from presentations to parties. Wenders was feted in a reception in the Glashütte Original Lounge; the German watch brand is the sponsor of the festival’s Retrospective and Homage sections. On Friday, he addressed a select group there, enchanting the crowd with stories of how he found his way as a filmmaker and honed his unique approach.
During the making of his 1977 film “The American Friend,” with Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz, Wenders explained, Hopper arrived late to the set in Hamburg, drugged up, injured, and still fully in character from his last shoot — “Apocalypse Now.” Hopper improvised off script, distracting and distressing experienced stage actor Ganz, who was making his screen debut. The two ended up in a fistfight, bleeding and angry, then disappeared. “Who would have thought that part of directing was to be a boxing referee,” mused Wenders. In the end, the two actors bonded, and their newfound camaraderie inspired the title of the intense thriller, which was originally to be called “Framed.”
After his busy week, there’s little rest ahead for Wenders. His “Salt of the Earth,” will compete for an Oscar next week in the Best Documentary — Feature category, and a major career retrospective highlighting more than 20 of his cinematic works opens at MoMA on March 2.