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Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders, 2005
Occupation Film director
Spouse(s) Edda Köchl (1968–74)
Lisa Kreuzer (1974–78)
Ronee Blakley (1979–81)
Isabelle Weingarten (1981–82)
Donata Wenders (1993–)
Awards Silver Bear Jury Prize
2000 The Million Dollar Hotel
Golden Palm
1984 Paris, Texas
Best Director Award (Cannes Film Festival)
1993 Faraway, So Close!
Golden Lion
1982 The State of Things

Ernst Wilhelm "Wim" Wenders (born 14 August 1945) is a German film director, playwright, author, photographer and producer.


Early life

Wenders was born in Düsseldorf. He graduated from high school in Oberhausen in the Ruhr area. He then studied medicine (1963–64) and philosophy (1964–65) in Freiburg and Düsseldorf. However, he dropped out of university studies and moved to Paris in October 1966 to become a painter. Wenders failed his entry test at France's national film school IDHEC (now La Fémis), and instead became an engraver in the studio of Johnny Friedlander, an American artist, in Montparnasse. During this time, Wenders became fascinated with cinema, and saw up to five movies a day at the local movie theater.

Set on making his obsession also his life's work, Wenders returned to Germany in 1967 to work in the Düsseldorf office of United Artists. That fall, he entered the "Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München" (University of Television and Film Munich). Between 1967 and 1970 while at the "HFF", Wenders also worked as a film critic for FilmKritik, then the Munich daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Twen magazine, and Der Spiegel.

Wenders completed several short films before graduating from the Hochschule with a feature-length 16mm black and white film, Summer in the City.

Wenders at Cannes, 2002

Career and awards

Wenders began his career with the rise of the New German Cinema at the end of the 1960s, making his feature directorial debut with Summer in the City (1970). Awards that he has received include the Golden Lion for The State of Things at the Venice Film Festival (1982), the Palme d'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival for his movie Paris, Texas, and Best Direction for Wings of Desire in the 1987 Bavarian Film Awards[1] and the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Wenders was awarded honorary doctorates at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium in 2005. In 1993 he again won the Bavarian Film Awards for Best Director.[1] He was awarded the Leopard of Honour at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2005.

Much of the distinctive cinematography in his movies is the result of a highly productive long-term collaboration with Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller. Some of his more successful and critically acclaimed movies (Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, for example) have been the result of fruitful collaborations with avant-garde authors Peter Handke and Sam Shepard. Handke's novel, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick was adapted for his second feature film, The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty and Handke co-wrote the script for Wings of Desire and Until the End of the World both featuring Solveig Dommartin.

Wenders has directed several highly acclaimed documentaries, most notably Buena Vista Social Club (1999) about Cuban musicians, and The Soul of a Man (2003) on American blues.

Wenders has directed many music videos for U2, including "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" and a number of television commercials including a UK advertisement for Carling Premier Canadian beer. His book, Emotion Pictures - a collection of diary essays written while a film student - was broadcast as a series of plays on BBC Radio 3, featuring Peter Capaldi as Wenders, with Gina McKee, Saskia Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Ricky Tomlinson, dramatised by Neil Cargill.

Wenders is also a member of the advisory board of World Cinema Foundation. The project was founded by Martin Scorsese and aimed at finding and reconstructing world cinema films that have been long neglected.

Wenders is also a Jury Member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.[2]

Selected exhibitions


Wim Wenders: Immagini dal pianeta terra, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, Italy Journey to Onomichi – Photos by Wim and Donata Wenders, Omotesando Hills, Tokyo, Japan Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, images from touring exhibition, Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Yugoslavia Dark Places, curated by Joshua Decter, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA


The Forest: Politics, Poetics, and Practice, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC Through the Lens, group exhibition, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD


Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus C, Denmark


Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, Australia and Japan, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY Between The Lines, group exhibition, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY Images of Time and Place: Contemporary Views of Landscape, group exhibition, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY Wim Wenders, Galleria Marabini, Bologna, Italy Through the Lens: Eight Photographers, group exhibition, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.


Wim Wenders, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY Wim Wenders, Galerie Judin Belot, Zurich, Switzerland


Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, touring exhibition: Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2001), Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2002), Haunch of Venison, London (2003); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2003); City Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; Millennium Art Museum, Beijing, China; Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai, China; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China (2004)


Buena Vista Social Club, Rose Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA


Wim Wenders: Landscape and Memory, Gallery of Contemporary Photography, Santa Monica Wim Wenders: Photos, in conjunction with the publication, Wim Wenders: Photos, Munich Goethe Institute (1996), Goethe Institutes worldwide


Wim Wenders: Landscape and Memory, Gallery of Contemporary Photography, Santa Monica, CA


Wim Wenders Photo Exhibition, in conjunction with the publication, Once, Munich: Schirmer/ Mosel (2001), touring exhibition: Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (1993); Villa delle Rose, Bologna (1994); FNAC, Paris (1994); Parco, Tokyo (1994); FNAC, Berlin (1995); Villa Rufolo, Ravello (1995)


Wim Wenders Photographs, touring exhibition: Galerie F. C Gundlach, Hamburg (1989); Galerie Marie-Louise Wirth, Zürich (1990); Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film, Munich (1991); Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles (1991); Shibuya Seibu Dept. Store, Tokyo (1992); Kiyomizu


Temple, Kyoto (1992); Musée de L'Elysée, Lausanne (1992); Amerika Haus, Berlin (1992); Venice Biennale (1993); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (1993); Sala Parpallo Palau Dels Scala, Valencia (1994); San Telmo Museum, San Sebastian (1994)


Written in the West, in conjunction with the publication, Written in the West, Munich: Schirmer/Mosel (1987), touring exhibition: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1986); Encontros de Fotografia, Coimbra (1987); Palazzo della Triennale di Milano (1988); Film Society of Miami (1988); Goethe Institut, Stockholm (1988); Goethe Institut, Copenhagen (1988); Saint-Yrieix-La-Perche (1990); Städtische Galerie Schwarzes Kloster, Freiburg (Breisgau) (1992)


Year Title German title Summary
1970 Summer in the City First full length feature film (Dedicated to The Kinks)
1972 The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty (UK) or The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (USA) Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter Adaptation of a novel by Peter Handke
1973 The Scarlet Letter Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe Adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne
1974 Alice in the Cities Alice in den Städten First part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy
1975 The Wrong Move Falsche Bewegung Second part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy, with Nastassja Kinski
1976 Kings of the Road Im Lauf der Zeit Third part of Wenders' Road Movie Trilogy
1977 The American Friend Der Amerikanische Freund Adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game
1980 Lightning Over Water Documentary about the last days of Nicholas Ray
1982 Room 666 Chambre 666 Short documentary interviews directors on the future of cinema, including Steven Spielberg, Jean-Luc Godard, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Filmed at Cannes
1982 Reverse Angle Short film documents Wenders' disputes with Coppola during Hammett
1982 Hammett Fictional story about Dashiell Hammett, American writer; based on a novel by Joe Gores
1982 The State of Things Stand der Dinge
1984 Paris, Texas
1985 Tokyo-Ga Documentary about Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu
1987 Wings of Desire Der Himmel über Berlin Written with Peter Handke
1989 Notebook on Cities and Clothes Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Städten Documentary about Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto.
1990 Red Hot + Blue Music video for "Night and Day" performed by U2
1991 Until the End of the World Bis ans Ende der Welt
1992 Arisha, the Bear and the Stone Ring Arisha, der Bär und der steinerne Ring
1993 Faraway, So Close! In weiter Ferne, so nah! Sequel to Wings of Desire
1994 Lisbon Story Partially a sequel to The State of Things
1995 Beyond the Clouds Jenseits der Wolken (with Michelangelo Antonioni)
1995 The Brothers Skladanowsky Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky Also known as A Trick of the Light
1997 The End of Violence
1998 Willie Nelson at the Teatro
1999 Buena Vista Social Club Documentary about Cuban musicians; made with Ry Cooder
2000 The Million Dollar Hotel
2001 Souljacker Part 1 Music Video for "Souljacker Pt 1" by Eels
2002 Ode to Cologne: A Rock 'N' Roll Film Viel passiert - Der BAP-Film Documentary about the Cologne rock group BAP
2002 Ten Minutes Older Contributed segment "Twelve Miles to Trona"
2003 The Soul of a Man Documentary about Blues musicians
2004 Land of Plenty
2005 Don't Come Knocking
2008 Palermo Shooting

Selected bibliography

  • Wenders, Wim (1984), Paris, Texas, Nördlingen: Greno, ISBN 978-3921568118 
  • Wenders, Wim (1986), Emotion pictures: Essays und Filmkritiken, 1968-1984, Frankfurt: Verlag der Autoren, ISBN 978-3886610785 
  • Wenders, Wim (1989), Emotion pictures: reflections on cinema, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0571152711 
  • Shepard, Sam; Wenders, Wim (1991), Paris, Texas: Screenplay, New York: Ecco Press, ISBN 978-0880012669 
  • Wenders, Wim; Hofmann, Michael (1992), The logic of images: essays and conversations, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0571165179 
  • Wenders, Wim (1995), Die Zeit mit Antonioni: Chronik eines Films, Frankfurt: Verlag der Autoren, ISBN 978-3886611621 
  • Wenders, Wim; Handke, Peter (1998), Der Himmel über Berlin: Ein Filmbuch von Wim Wenders und Peter Handke, Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, ISBN 978-3518024065 
  • Wenders, Wim; Wenders, Donata (2000), The heart is a sleeping Beauty: the Million Dollar Hotel - a film book, New York: teNeues, ISBN 978-3823854685 
  • Wenders, Wim; Hofmann, Michael (2000), My time with Antonioni: the diary of an extraordinary experience, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0571200764 
  • Wenders, Wim (2001), Written in the West, New York: teNeues, ISBN 978-3823854692 
  • Wenders, Wim (2001), Once: pictures and stories, New York: D.A.P./Schirmer/Mosel, ISBN 978-1891024252 
  • Wenders, Wim; Hofmann, Michael (2001), On film: essays and conversations, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0571207183 
  • Lindbergh, Peter; Wenders, Wim (2002), Peter Lindbergh: stories, Santa Fe: Arena Editions, ISBN 978-1892041647 
  • Steinhilber, Berthold; Wenders, Wim (2003), Ghost towns of the American West, New York: Harry N. Abrams, ISBN 978-0810945081 
  • Wenders, Wim; Tawada, Yoko (2007), Where Europe begins, New York: New Directions Publishers, ISBN 978-0811217026 


  • "Sex and violence was never really my cup of tea; I was always more into sax and violins."
  • "I consider Ozu my all time grand master."
  • "I want to make personal films, not private films."

See also


External links

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