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Unseen Classic Caps Fassbinder Retrospective At MoMA

Monday, April 9-------A cinema classic largely unseen since its debut in 1980 caps off the three-week series of films made by the iconoclastic German New Cinema director Rainer Werner Fassbinder that has been captivating New York audiences anew at the Museum of Modern Art.

Fassbinder was the highly influential director whose distinctive films mixed politics, social issues and deep emotions in a sparkling career that was meteoric and all too brief . After the release of such 1970s milestones as FOX AND HIS FRIENDS, EFFI BRIEST, IN A YEAR OF THIRTEEN MOONS and THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN, Fassbinder tackled one of German literature's most towering achievements, the Depression-era saga BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ. Originally made as a television series, the multi-character adaptation of Alfred Doblin's acclaimed novel was such a success d'estime that a slightly shortened version premiered at the 1980 Venice International Film Festival, which then made the rounds of the international film festival circuit, eventually being seen in limited theatrical release around the world.

The film (if considered as one piece) is perhaps the longest narrative film ever made....a 15-1/2 hour episodic exploration of the character of Franz Biberkopf, the anti-hero whose passions and indiscretions are emblematic of the Alexanderplatz area of Berlin that he inhabits.The film stars Gunter Lamprecht as the Weimar everyman struggling with the post-World War I depths of German society. Mr. Lamprecht and the film's co-star Barbara Sukowa will attend. The series was shot on 16mm film, which is very fragile. The film has been virtually unseen on the big screen for almost two decades. The Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with the Fassbinder Foundation, has completed a restoration, transferring to 35mm film, which may give the atmospheric direction and cinematography even greater depth. The film will be shown in its 14 separate chapters, three per day over the next week. A special two part screening marathon on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15.

This evening, Juliane Lorenz, Fassbinder's longtime editor, will introduce two documentaries, FASSBINDER'S BERLING ALEXANDERPLATZ: NOTES ON THE RESTORATION and MEGA MOVIE AND ITS STORY, both produced for German television. This is one of those rare cinematic opportunities that truly does not come along very often. To be able to see Fassbinder's crowning achievement in an enhanced film format, in a marathon screening that is sure to envelop its's even better than The Sopranos (although people tend to get whacked in both of the above).

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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