Wim Wenders, behind the lens

Cinema for Wim Wenders is a wonderful language of light and motion, myth and adventure that can talk about love and hate, war and peace, life and death. The central figure of this year’s 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival that ended last Sunday, Wenders had visited the northern port city to attend a tribute to his work, a master class and the inauguration of an exhibition of photographs taken by Wenders and his wife, Donata. The exhibition at the Thessaloniki Pier Complex’s Photography Museum runs until January 3 and is organized by the TIFF in collaboration with the Goethe Institute. The exhibition, curated by Vangelis Ioakimides and Marion Inglessi, reveals the different points of view taken by the husband and wife of the same moments and scenes. It gives rare behind-the-scenes takes from «Beyond the Clouds» (co-directed with Michelangelo Antonioni in 1995), «The End of Violence» (1997), «Buena Vista Social Club» (1999) and «The Million Dollar Hotel,» as well as previously unpublished photographs from «Land of Plenty» (2004) and «Don’t Come Knocking» (2005). Unexpected portraits of the great Italian filmmaker Antonioni from «Beyond the Clouds,» black-and-white shots of the usually colorful city of Havana from the filming of «Buena Vista Social Club,» moments showing Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange and Eva Marie Saint relaxing or getting ready for a scene in «Don’t Come Knocking,» have all been captured by the lenses of Wim and Donata. The display of the exhibition is especially interesting as it is organized in long corridors according to film, with Wim’s photographs on one side and Donata’s on the other, juxtaposing the two artists’ differing views of similar things. Wenders was given his first camera by an aunt at the age of 6 and remembers taking strange photographs of the animals at his local zoo. Ten years later, he took his father’s Leica and has since never stopped snapping shots of the things going on around him, even when later in life he decided to get into the business of creating moving images. The core of his photographic oeuvre is from the shooting of his films, and in his photographs one discerns a strong sense of space and frame that is perhaps more powerful than that seen in his more recent films. The lukewarm critical reception of his most recent film, «Don’t Come Knocking,» seems to have led to the director’s decision to stay away from the film set for a year and dedicate himself to photography. Each of Wenders’s six wives have played a decisive role in his career, normally appearing in his films. Donata, who was married to Wim in 1993, shared her husband’s passion for the camera and began taking her own photographs of his film sets in 1995. Having worked for several years as a camera assistant and a cinematographer, the 40-year-old artist found herself in her natural location on her husband’s sets.

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