April 8—15, 2024


King of Time. A retrospective of Wim Wenders’ films

I lived in different cities of the world and directed my camera at many landscapes, mostly urban, but there were also villages, borders, highway intersections, and deserts.

Despite appearances, Wim Wenders, the king of road cinema, enjoys traversing not only physical spaces but also making time palpable. Therefore, at the festival of timeless stories, we have taken it as a point of honor that it is this aspect guiding viewers through the works of the German director.

Two upcoming releases of Wim Wenders’ films in Polish cinemas – Perfect Days introduced by Gutek Film and Anselm distributed by the New Horizons Association – perfectly embody this perspective. After all, the former celebrates everyday life in its repetition and monotony, while the latter juxtaposes the present with the history of Germany (and even broader: all of Europe).

During Timeless Film Festival Warsaw, we will have the pleasure of immersing ourselves in time and feeling its rhythm. Alongside the aforementioned (and screened in 3D) Anselm, the festival’s program includes Wenders’ films that offer a sense of the passage of successive minutes, hours, and days – and in some ways, even decades.

Kings of the Road (Im Lauf der Zeit, West Germany 1976), the oldest title shown, portrays the young invention of cinema coming to terms with maturity. The protagonist, a mechanic repairing cinema projectors, bids farewell to the analog world. The situation changes 180 degrees in the legendary Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin, West Germany 1987), in which time actually stands still – and in what a place! The Iron Curtain clings to the earth, but the inhabitants of divided Berlin are tired of this state of affairs. Their desperation, sadness, and disillusionment are observed by the angel Damiel (Bruno Ganz), who lives outside of time. In Wings of Desire, Wenders simultaneously tells the story of frozen time and makes it freeze, depicting the moment just before the fall of the wall dividing Europe.

On a different note, Paris, Teksas (USA 1984 – a Palme d’Or winner turning 40 this year—delves into time displaced from memory. Despite its age, the film still packs an electrifying punch and depicts the loneliness of a man (Harry Dean Stanton) wandering through time-ravaged Texas. Road cinema, itself entwined with time, is one of Wenders’ favorite genres. A monumental, five-hour-long treatment of this motif is Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt, Germany/France/Australia 1991), where he explores the dimension of time not accessible to us: the time of dreams.

Wenders manipulates time in Lightning Over Water (West Germany/Sweden 1980), creating a cinematic portrait of his friend—cancer-stricken Nicholas Ray, director of the famous Rebel Without a Cause. On the one hand, he immortalizes him in his documentary, on the other: he helps him in the realization of his last authorial work, acting against the fleeing days. So, since Wenders paid tribute to Ray, we too decided to go back in time and show one of the filmmaker’s best films: the noirish In a Lonely Place (USA 1950), transporting us to the threshold of 1950s Hollywood – a decade that inspired the author of Alice in the Cities time and again.

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