BFI Fassbinder: The Many Faces of Rainer Werner Fassbinder


13 April-8 June 2017, 18:30 Studio, BFI Southbank


This eight-week course of talks, seminars and discussions accompanies the BFI’s Fassbinder retrospective. We will take a close look at Fassbinder’s obsession with Hollywood genres, the stars he cast (and created), and the West German context from which his films emerged – from student revolts through queer culture to terrorism. Beginners and experts welcome!


Curated by Martin Brady and Erica Carter of King’s College London (in collaboration with the German Screen Studies Network).


13 April, 18:30 Martin Brady: Gangsters, auteurs, politics

Fassbinder’s films abound with gangsters from his debut to his last works. This session will examine his early gangster trilogy (1969-70) and trace how this semi-autobiographical figure metamorphoses into an auteur and, in The Third Generation (1979), a postmodern terrorist.


20 April, 18:30 Joanne Leal: Representing masculinities in The American Soldier

In this workshop we will explore the way in which Fassbinder exploits the gangster film genre to interrogate West German masculinities in the post-war period, focusing on the way the film examines love, desire and sexuality as they manifest in male-male friendships and male-female relationships. 


27 April, 18:30 Mattias Frey: Fassbinder, the art film and popular genre: Whity

Whity was Fassbinder’s most ambitious film hitherto, a richly imagined CinemaScope Western. In this session we will examine this film and link it to Fassbinder’s experiments with both the highbrow and the popular.


4 May, 18:30 Elena Gorfinkel: Fassbinder and Sexuality

This study session considers the role of sex and sexuality in Fassbinder’s films, exploring the nature of the filmmaker’s interest in the sexed body as material and sex as social currency, as well as his preoccupation with scenarios of erotic exertion, obsession, humiliation and exhaustion. 


11 May, 18:30 Erica Carter: Stars and Divas

Centring on female stardom in late films including Veronika Voss, this session explores Fassbinder’s characteristic use of diva figures to dramatize and dissect gendered relationships of power and submission. 


25 May, 18:30 Stephanie Bird: Berlin Alexanderplatz, comedy and suffering

This session examines the mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz as a culmination of Fassbinder’s work for the small screen, and an example of his use of irony, hilarity and the ludicrous to provoke radical  thinking. 


1 June, 18:30 David Barnett: From Stage to Screen - Katzelmacher and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Fassbinder started his creative life on stage, not behind the camera, and continued to write and direct plays until 1975. Theatre and performance are present in many of his works for the cinema, and this session examines two important films in the context of the plays that inspired them.


8 June, 18:30 Andrew Webber: The Queer in Querelle

This session will consider Fassbinder’s status as a pioneer of queer cinema, with particular reference to his adaptation of Jean Genet’s Querelle of Brest. Discussion will focus on the aesthetic organisation of the film with respect to embodiment and mise-en-scène.


Booking opens on 14 March. To reserve your place on this course, please go to the BFI website.