Austin Film Society presents Essential Cinema: The Bitter Tears of Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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The Merchant Of Four Seasons
Photo courtesy of Austin Film Society

This series celebrates the prolific master of New German Cinema and his razor-sharp gaze at culture and society across genre and style.

Schedule of films

  • July 5: Love Is Colder Than Death - A comic tragedy genre experiment for young Fassbinder. In a world where everyone is a prostitute or a criminal, two young gangsters get on the wrong side of corrupt union racketeers and strike out on their own criminal enterprises together. Fassbinder takes gangster and French New Wave cool but gets more subversive, especially with sex, violence and homo-eroticism.
  • July 7: The Merchant Of Four Seasons - Fassbinder shakes up his loose, cool reputation by diving into social satire via melodrama with the first of his films made after his deep dive into the electrifying melodramatic world of Douglas Sirk. Humorously criticizing both a broken society and the people that inhabit it, Fassbinder makes a microcosm of the struggles of a poor street fruit peddler and his many failures. A dark and funny parable about everyday people in the Germany that Fassbinder lived to critique.
  • July 12 and 14: Ali: Fear Eats The Soul - Striking, honest and tender, one of Fassbinder’s smallest films in budget is among his greatest in artistic achievement. Putting his deeply felt outsider complex to work, Fassbinder confronts German xenophobia and social taboos by telling the story of an older widow who falls in love with a north African immigrant 20 years her junior. The film’s power is in its startling directness and cinematic depiction of lovers against a judgmental world. In addition to being directly inspired by the intergenerational love affair in Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, the film is also suspected to depict Fassbinder’s star-crossed relationship with a north African man, which ended in tragedy.
  • July 17: Beware Of A Holy Whore - Fassbinder’s ultimate hang-out movie. As a movie production awaits financing, the restless cast and crew languish in an Italian resort hotel. Based on a true situation that befell Fassbinder and his crew, the film is full of funny rants, ill-advised hook-ups, in-jokes and, in between all the tension, moments of true cinematic beauty.
  • July 19 and 21: Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant - In this intense melodrama, an egomaniacal fashion designer draws nearer to crisis in her personal life as an attractive young woman enters her orbit. Margit Carstensen is unforgettable in the title role. With equally compelling turns from her ensemble of co-stars. A gorgeous nightmare of excess set entirely inside one of the most decadent apartments imaginable.
  • July 28: Marriage Of Maria Braun - Lead actress Hannah Schygulla creates nothing less than a masterpiece in her performance of Maria Braun, a self-made woman who builds a new life out of the rubble of World War II, riding the wave of Germany’s post-war economic growth. Fassbinder was driven to make seen what others refused to look at, and his country’s soul in the post-war period was ripe for the picking. The eager forgetfulness of the immediate past sets the stage for the Marriage of Maria Braun (1978), which was followed in Fassbinder’s post-war “BRD Trilogy” by the films Lola and Veronika Ross, which also featured female heroines.
  • August 4-25: Eight Hours Doesn't Make A Day - Presented in five parts, this newly restored series of Fassbinder made-for-television films presents an intertwined panorama of German working couples. Newly rediscovered and restored. Please note that each chapter stands alone as a separate work and may be enjoyed individually.

Event Details


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AFS Cinema
6406 N. I-35 Frontage Rd. Suite 3100
Austin, TX 78752


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