The Cinema and Its Double: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s »Despair« Revisited

In the spring of 1977, Germany’s most famous and most prolific director Rainer Werner Fassbinder began to shoot his first film in English: DESPAIR. Based on a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the film’s international cast was headed by screen icons Dirk Bogarde and Andréa Ferréol. The feature-length documentary THE CINEMA AND ITS DOUBLE chronicles the making of DESPAIR, from adapting the novel to the film’s premiere at the Cannes film festival in 1978. New interviews with screenwriter Sir Tom Stoppard, director of photography Michael Ballhaus, star Andréa Ferréol, editor Juliane Lorenz and many others cover every detail of the filmmaking process and take the viewer back to that moment in film history when New German Cinema was at its peak. In a newly discovered archival interview with Fassbinder himself, filmed at his hotel room in Cannes, the director talks about the main subject of DESPAIR – madness – and about his personal fears and desires. »This absolutely top-notch documentary is a fascinating look back at not just the film in question, but Fassbinder’s meteoric career which ended all too soon with his untimely death. Even if you’re not a particular fan of DESPAIR, or even in fact of Fassbinder, this is stellar documentary filmmaking and is an intriguing look at one of the most enigmatic masters of the New German Cinema« (Jeffrey Kauffman,

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