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The Soul of a Man
Wim Wenders Director Biography
Often hailed as one of the most important directors on the international scene, Wenders first came to prominence with his debut, critically-acclaimed feature, 1971's The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, based on the novel by Peter Handke. An adaptation of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter followed a year later, as did a succession of dramatic comedies which portrayed rootless characters, including Alice in the Cities (1973), Wrong Move (1974) and Kings of the Road (1975).

These three films, along with 1977's thriller The American Friend — which featured Dennis Hopper — focused on post-war Germany and its sweeping cultural changes. They conveyed Wenders' intense love of cinema and rock and roll, which would continue to permeate his work throughout his career.

In 1978, Wenders began a collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios on Hammett, a fictional film about the novelist Dashiell Hammett and a mysterious disappearance in San Francisco. The film was finally released in 1982 after several setbacks and proved to be an inspiration for Wenders' next effort, The State of Things (1983), an austere look at modern-day filmmaking, which earned him a Golden Lion as Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1984, Wenders won worldwide acclaim with Paris, Texas , the story of a drifter making peace with his turbulent past. The film won the Palme D'Or at Cannes and a Best Director award for Wenders from BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Wenders then returned to Germany to direct 1988's Wings of Desire, a fable of a guardian angel in Berlin who forsakes his immortal status for the love of a woman. Wings earned Wenders critical acclaim and the Best Director award at Cannes, the European Film Award for Best Picture, the German Film Prize, and an Independent Spirit Award, among others, and was later remade as City of Angels, starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage. In 1993, Wenders made a sequel to Wings of Desire called Faraway, So Close!, which featured a number of original cast members reprising their roles and won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. Most recently, Wenders directed The Million Dollar Hotel, a tragicomic mystery originated by U2's Bono and starring Mel Gibson, Jimmy Smits, Jeremy Davies, Milla Jovovich, Peter Stormare, Amanda Plummer, Gloria Stuart, and Bud Cort. The film won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2000.

Throughout his career, Wenders has also made unconventional documentaries, including Lightning Over Water (1980), made with and about director Nicholas Ray; Tokyo-Ga, the 1985 tribute to filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu; and Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989), a profile of avant garde fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto.

He has also directed several music videos, including one for his Irish friends, U2, and a concert film with Willie Nelson at the Teatro in 1998. But his most famous musical effort was the 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club, about a group of legendary Cuban musicians, including Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo and Ruben Gonzales, brought together by Ry Cooder. The film received an Academy Award nomination, and earned the Best Documentary prize from the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics, and the Los Angeles Film Critics. It was followed in 2001 by Ode to Cologne, a feature-length rockumentary about the German band BAP.

Wenders was born on August 14, 1945 in Düsseldorf. Initially intent on studying medicine and philosophy, Wenders transferred his attention to film in 1967 and attended the Academy of Film and Television in Munich. He has worked as a film critic for several German publications and was a founding member of Filmverlag der Autoren (the production and distribution company at the origin of the "New German Cinema"). In 1976 he started his production company, Road Movies. He served as Chairman of the European Film Academy from 1991 to 1996, after which he was elected its president. Since 1993, he has been teaching at his alma mater in Munich. Wenders holds an honorary doctorate of Arts and Letters from the Sorbonne University in Paris and an honorary doctorate of theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Wenders currently teaches film as a professor at the Hamburg School of Arts.


 

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