HOW IT BEGAN
What happens to a work when the artist is no longer there? Who will take care of it in the future – or, indeed: who will even be allowed to take care of it? These important questions often go unanswered simply because a new project is ongoing and that always seems more important than some still abstract future. Yet there is definitely a responsibility for what we, as artists, have put into the world, one that even outlasts our own existence.
My films are testimonies to an era. They were shaped by the history of a cinema that will no longer exist, yet also formed by many other influences, by countless actors, technicians and musicians, their faces, thoughts, ideas and talents. These films stand for a yearning for a better world, for self-determination, equality and respect for others; for a German and European history that is worth handing down and which at this moment is facing a historical threat that we probably all considered impossible.
Ten years ago, my wife Donata and I created the Wim Wenders Foundation in Düsseldorf, the city of my birth. With the help of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the city of Düsseldorf and private donors, we succeeded in raising the capital to acquire the Foundation’s assets, namely the rights to a package of fifty-two of my films, both long and short, with the aim of enabling the Foundation to preserve and make accessible my complete cinematic, photographic, literary and artistic oeuvre for the future.
We have many to thank for facilitating this and for the fact that we can today look back on ten successful years of the Foundation. Which is why this newsletter features something familiar from film, the credits. So please pay special attention to the acknowledgements at the end of our newsletter!
THE FOUNDATION’S TASKS AND PROJECTS
SAFEGUARDING FILMS AND SECURING THEM FOR THE FUTURE
The assets of the Wim Wenders Foundation, which now comprise over sixty films, have changed significantly when compared with its founding phase. Although a large number of these films were initially safeguarded through the 2012 acquisition, they were still broadly ‘invisible’ and unusable. This was by no fault of their own, but rather due to the technological situation at the time when the Foundation was established. For from virtually that moment on, all films only available on celluloid were all but ‘dead.’ The film prints could no longer be used and the negatives could no longer be a basis for the films’ continued existence. They had to be transferred to digital storage media to ensure that. So securing the oeuvre by making it available digitally was one of the Foundation’s first central missions.
Before this could begin, however, the Foundation had to collate and process legal and licensing issues and materials. Some of the films had passed through several sets of hands and the documentation was anything but comprehensive. The recording and revising of fifty meters of contractual works by a small team was nothing less than a heroic achievement, while the processing of the scattered and not always comprehensibly documented licenses was a masterstroke of logistic and detective work!
To date, the Foundation has restored and digitized twenty of the essential films comprised in its rights-package to the highest technological standards and thus secured them for the future. More are to follow. Here you can see more about the restoration process.
DISTRIBUTING FILMS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
The Wim Wenders Foundation has been and continues to be visible worldwide with the films it has digitally restored to the high quality of 4K. This has included retrospectives of restorations cited as exemplary at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, the Cinemathèque in Paris, the MoMA in New York (with an ensuing US tour), in Beijing, Amsterdam, Lyon, Zurich, Vienna, Sarajevo, and, most recently, in London and many Curzon cinemas across the UK. In 2020, Germany’s NDR public broadcaster ran a comprehensive showcase of Wim Wenders’ work to mark his 75th birthday, garnering great viewer interest both on linear television and in the NDR media library and three million viewers.
Sometimes Wim Wenders’ films follow different paths, leaving the cinema screen and entering the exhibition space – as was the case with the project (E)motion, a monumental cinematographic installation based on Wim Wenders’ entire cinematic oeuvre, which was projected as a complex, seven-part kaleidoscope onto the interior structure of the Grand Palais in Paris’ gigantic nave during Easter week, 2019 (in cooperation with La Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais Paris and technical company Atelier Athem).
The WWS in numbers
52 Wim Wenders films have been acquired,
of which 20 films have been restored or digitized in 2K or 4K,
and 1,327,814 EUR have been invested,
of which 203,000 EUR were from public funds.
Wenders films were screened in 89 countries and 5 continents.
PRESERVING THE OEUVRE AND MAKING IT ACCESSIBLE
THE FOUNDATION ARCHIVE
By preserving, maintaining and distributing Wim Wenders’ complete artistic oeuvre, the Wim Wenders Foundation facilitates and promotes an artistic, academic and pedagogical exchange with cultural, research and educational institutions. The Foundation’s comprehensive archive plays a central role in this, as it aims not only to serve as a store of knowledge from the past but also as an inspiration and living source for the cinema of the future and its audience. One hundred and fifty running meters of production document files were inherited by the Foundation at its launch in 2012 – as well as extensive correspondence, as well as writings, speeches, books, personal documents, props, costumes, photographs, paintings and graphic works. Even though a large part has already been systematically organized by an archivist, there still remains much work to preserve Wim Wenders’ extensive oeuvre for posterity.
The archive in figures:
The Foundation archive comprises:
2,500 rolls of film material and 2,300 film boxes,
300 film posters,
600 graphic works,
150 running meters of files,
10 running meters of film-related photographic material.
WORKING WITH AND PROMOTING YOUNG TALENT
THE WIM WENDERS GRANT
Together with the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, the Wim Wenders Foundation awards the Wim Wenders Grant to support the development of projects with a focus on innovative cinematic narrative art. Forty-one filmmakers have to date been able to benefit from this grant, which will be awarded for the tenth time in 2023. Seven grant holders have already made it to the big screen. Over and above its financial support, the grant is a welcome networking tool for young filmmakers – they meet annually for a colloquium where they can discuss their projects and exchange experiences with Wim Wenders.
A EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF SEEING
The Wim Wenders Foundation launched its first own film education project in September 2022. Students from six schools in Berlin and Düsseldorf will embark on a cinematic journey under the patronage of Wim Wenders, which is to take in European cinema and continue until December 2023 whilst also encouraging students to create their own cinematic works. “A European School of Seeing”, the title of the film-education project organized with the financial support of the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, the Federal Agency for Civic Education, and the Paul und Mia Herzog Stiftung (Düsseldorf), invites interested students to discover together recent films of European filmmakers as well as classics of European film history.
THANKS TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGELS
The Wim Wenders Foundation would like to express heartfelt thanks to all donors, companions, supporters, institutions and staff who have made the WWS what it is today:
The State of North Rhine-Westphalia
The City of Düsseldorf
for their generous financial support, with whose help fifty-two films could be bought back,
The Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States
for a helpful loan,
Hans W. Geißendörfer, Manfred Hell, Peter Schwartzkopff, Jochen Hülder and Die Toten Hosen, Michael Schnitzler and Harald Falckenberg
our private benefactors,
the Kompetenz-Center Stiftungen der Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf and Dr. Franz Schulte
for judicious advice during the foundation establishment,
who in her position as CEO of the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW brought all parties to the table and has been our Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the past ten years,
Marion Döring, Felix Krämer and Rusta Mizani
who, as members of the Board, hold their protective hands over the Foundation together with Wim and Donata Wenders so as to guide it into a secure future,
as well as Erich Thum, the driving force behind the Foundation and a Board Member until 2020,
and Beat Wismer, Board Member until 2017,
Bernd Desinger, Dagmar Forelle, David von Galen, Thomas Hoegh, Miriam Koch, Petra Müller
who, as members of the Board of Trustees, provide the Foundation with advice and support as well as
Dr. Marc Jan Eumann, Thilo Gabor, Hans W. Geißendörfer, Hans-Georg Lohe, Bernd Neuendorf and Annette Storsberg
who have contributed to the Board of Trustees for many years,
Carolin von Roth
who as founding Managing Director got the Foundation up and running,
who, as first Managing Director, made an enormous difference and kept the Foundation on course for eight years,
the “Birkenstraße Dream Team”
Hannah Huber, Anika Lecomte, Bernd Eichhorn, Lies Weimer, Katharina Runge and Kalla Lenders, who handled a load of things in Düsseldorf,
Claire Brunel and Hella Wenders,
our two Managing Directors, who have accompanied the Foundation on its exciting journey since 2020,
Francesca Hecht and Christine Rennert,
who, as Heads of Material and Catalogue Handling respectively, find the answer to (almost) every question with their know-how and meticulousness.
Anyone who would like to support our charitable work is welcome to do so here.
More news and background info can be found at the WW calendar and on our Facebook page.