Some lights burn bright but fast. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's was one of them. The German filmmaker made 39 films — including six television movies and series — and four video productions during his 17-year career. And, because he clearly wasn't busy enough, he also directed 24 stage plays and four radio plays, and managed to act, shoot, compose, design, edit and produce, and work as a theatre manager. Phew.
If his life hadn't been cut short by a drug overdose at the age of 37, who knows what else he would've made — or how much lazier he would've made everyone else feel. Alas, that's not how things turned out for the provocative, prodigious, prolific, probing writer/director, but 35 years after his death, his immense body of work lives on.
In the first major retrospective of Fassbinder's output in Australia, the Gallery of Modern Art is dedicating two separate months to the New German Cinema pioneer, and for free. After the first part ran in late 2017, the program is back again from June 1 to July 4. Highlights include a restored version of his iconic post-war drama The Marriage of Maria Braun, sci-fi series World on a Wire, and his final effort, Querelle — plus documentary Fassbinder: To Love Without Demand, which takes the form of a personal cine-essay about the director. Or, catch Fassbinder's final screen appearance in Kamikaze '89, as — as the program describes — "an alcoholic, leopard-print wearing rogue detective in retro-futuristic Germany".