Nasceu em Tóquio, em 1903, filho de um modesto comerciante de adubo. Descobriu o cinema na adolescência, em sessões realizadas por um exibidor ambulante. Em 1922 conseguiu emprego nos estúdios Shochiku e, em 1927, dirigiu seu primeiro filme, Espada da Penitência (Zange no Yaiba). Nos anos seguintes, dirigiu algumas comédias burlescas, gênero então em voga. Seu primeiro filme importante, Fui Reprovado, mas... (Rakudai wa Shitakeredo, 1930) é um drama social característico de seu estilo nos anos 1930. Durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial foi enviado a Singapura, onde travou contato com o cinema americano moderno. Caiu prisioneiro e foi condenado a trabalhos forçados pelos ingleses. Voltou ao cinema em 1946 e em 1949 dirigiu Pai e Filha (Banshun), considerado no Japão como o filme mais profundamente japonês já realizado. A descrição nuançada e desdramatizada da família atinge a perfeição em Também Fomos Felizes (Bakushu, 1951) e Viagem a Tóquio (Tokyo Monogatari, 1953), seu filme mais conhecido no exterior. Suas últimas obras - Dia de Outono (Akibiyori, 1960, 27ª Mostra), Fim de Verão (Kohayagawa-ke no Aki, 1961, 27ª Mostra) e A Rotina tem seu Encanto (Sanma no Aji, 1962, 27ª Mostra) - brilham pela serenidade e pelo rigor formal. Só foi reconhecido no Ocidente como um dos maiores mestres do cinema japonês no fim da década de 1970. O lançamento mundial do livro O Anticinema de Ozu, de Kiju Yoshida, publicado pela Mostra em parceria com a Cosac & Naify, aconteceu dentro da retrospectiva de Yoshida exibida na 27ª Mostra.
CARTE BLANCHE TO WIM WENDERS - THE 2008 HUMANITY PRIZE
Wim Wenders has been given carte blanche by the 2008 São Paulo International Film Festival to program whatever he will. He has been one of the authors most in evidence over the course of Mostra editions and of our history as film lovers. Always courageous in manifesting his disquiet in face of a world with misleading signs of modernity, Wenders manifests his non-conformity with disturbing sagacity, presence of mind, innovation, and a ceaseless quest for innovating formulas of expression.
Changeable and sufficiently daring, he has never concealed his fascination for American popular culture and the icons that people our imagination - outright fascination with criticism, not dazzle, that imbues us with courage and frees us from the guilt of stagnation - an invitation to travel and to a second reading: fascination that fills our eyes and mind with poetry and musicality, nostalgia and modernity, looking back into the past and into the future with the certainty of one crying out for changes in the present.
Wenders made good use of fame that grew rapidly as emerging talent in a Germany paranoic about its own future. Even as an exponent of the New German Cinema movement, he made his way to the United States to pay tribute to several of his idols - one to actor and director Dennis Hopper, with The American Friend (Der Amerikanische Freund, 1977), another to directors Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller, all three acting in the same film. He re-invented his modernity with a neo-noir film and, at the same time, aroused our admiration for novelist Patricia Highsmith and her inspired character Tom Ripley. He also paid tribute, indirectly, to Alfred Hitchcock who adapted the novel to cinema in Strangers on a Train (1950).
Wim Wenders’ sincerity is stimulating. His American pilgrimage was astonishing. His films involved spectators with characters and plots able to take the martyrdom of a film lover to the final consequences - a return to Nicholas Ray, the mythical director of Johnny Guitar (1954) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). With him, Wenders filmed Lightning Over Water (1980) to record his slow, real death.
Wim Wenders’ inventiveness afforded us exciting escapes, even when they triggered conflict with icons admired in common. Such was the case of the fascinating tribute to Dashiel Hammett, author of police novels, the soul of film noir, at a very high cost. Hammett, of 1982, was also filmed in the United States and generated conflicts with the producer we so admired as a film maker - Francis Ford Coppola. Between agitated filming and interruptions, he went back to Europe to film The State of Things, in 1982. He would never have imagined, but this film became the symbol of resistance against the Brazilian military dictatorship, after winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Festival. On October 20, 1984, with over one thousand people in a sold-out session of The State of Things at Cine Metrópole, a movie theater that has, unfortunately disappeared, the agents of the Federal Police arrived with orders to close down the
8th São Paulo International Film Festival.
In The State of Things, a filming team is in Portugal inspired on Wenders’ own autobiography with the difficulties of a film maker to make a film without being able to shake off the opression from the producer. It all began one month before the 8th Mostra opened, when we challenged the government in its last year of dictatorship. By sueing the Federal Government, we would win the case in court so that, for the first time in eight years of existence, we would hold a festival without subjecting the selection of films to prior government censorship. Mostra was reacting to all the years of humiliation. One week later, the federal government was to annul the temporary restraining order and, to everyone’s astonishment, close down Mostra. And precisely when The State of Things was being shown... With my voice shaken and tears in my eyes, I read the court decision to an astonished audience - prohibiting a São Paulo International Film Festival free of censorship.
Meanwhile, in the throes of creativity, Wim Wenders recovered from the impact of the previous American film and was awarded the Golden Palm in Cannes, 1984 for Paris, Texas - impeccably modern, with a script by Sam Shepard on finding and losing, with actors Harry Dean Stanton and Natassja Kinski and music by Ry Cooder.
Wenders, admirable film maker and film lover that he was, next took us to Japan with a diary documentary Tokyo-Ga in the form of a pilgrimage and reverence to the great master, Yasujiro Ozu. It was Wenders who, in 1985, opened the eyes of new generations to the cinema of the great Japanese master. In Wim Wenders’ films we could observe his capacity for divesting, invariably making himself seem much smaller in comparison to the icons of one’s cultural background. With him, we learned about the great driving force of humility. In the film, covering Japanese scenarios and rituals as bizarre as they are fascinating, Wenders behaves with the discipline of a pupil and highlights how very Japanese and universal the inestimable cinematographic heritage of Ozu really is.
Admiration for Wim Wenders grew with each revelation and each new surprise in his films. The most thrilling of all the films at this stage was, most certainly, his demolishing of the Berlin Wall ahead of time, with Wings of Desire (1987). Chaste angels dare ignore the existence of the abominable wall and fly back and forth over the frontiers, to find the souls they are to guard. Wings of Desire was, deservedly, awarded the Prize from the Public at the 12th Mostra in 1987 and was immediately inserted in the collection of his films that are forever adored. Unforgettable, also, is the fact the angels could see only in black and white. They only saw in color when they became mortals having committed the ‘sin’ of falling in love with live beings.
Remarkable also is Wim Wenders’ equally surprising talent and generosity in lending prestige to musical talents to aggregate values to his films. “My life was saved by Rock’n Roll. Because it was this kind of music that, for the very first time in my life, gave me a feeling of identity, the feeling that I had a right to enjoy, to imagine, and to do something”, says Wenders in his official site www.wim-wenders.com.
The listing of musicians invited to his films is considerable -
Ry Cooder, Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, U2, Bono, Nick Cave, BAP, Wolfgang Niedecken, Ronnee Blakley, and Lou Reed, in addition to achieving a world feat by redeeming talent in groups such as the Buena Vista Social Club, of 1998. With this musical documentary, Wenders brought added life to a group of very talented Cuban musicians. Or, as when he focused on the story of three impressive bluesmen - Blind Willie Johnson (1902-1947), Skip James (1902-1969), and J. B. Lenoir (1929-1967) in The Soul of a Man (2003), his feature within the blues series and that, again, was awarded the Prize from the Public at the 27th Mostra.
Wim Wenders justifies his choice of the three bluesmen because, in them, he identified characteristics in common: “They were ahead of their time, they wrote their own music, they were complete singers and instrumentalists, and they died unknown and forgotten”. For this film Wim Wenders was awarded the Humanity Prize at the 32nd São Paulo International Film Festival. With his gesture and with his films, he enriched the listing of those formerly indicated to the Mostra Humanity Prize, namely Manoel de Oliveira, Eduardo Coutinho, and Amos Gitai.
To all, attention to the films chosen by Wim Wenders with carte blanche. Mostra can finally see its guardian angel in color.