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Maria, Magdalena and all the others: Hommage on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Werner Schroeter

24. March 2010 – 28. June 2010

The central point of Werner Schroeter’s creation are women. Women are in the centre of his attention. Women are his closest co-operators and confidents. Schroeter is enthusiastic about women.  He develops his surreal melodramas with women, and also his collages interwoven with music. For him women abolish the limits of sex: they play male characters in a more poignant way, more than the few males in his former films were able to. His stars were Carla Aulaulu, Magdalena Montezuma, Christine Kaufmann, Ellen Umlauf, Ingrid Caven. Later, subsequent to  the numerous stars of the opera, Bulle Ogier and Isabelle Huppert became his friends. Since 1977 Alberte Barsacq has designed nearly all sets and scenes for his films. In four of his films Elfi Mikesch led the camera and Juliane Lorenz and Ila von Hasperg worked for him as cutters. However,  at the beginning there was his admiration for Maria Callas. Schroeter was enchanted by her voice and  her charisma. He met the diva personally. His early work is not imaginable without Callas. But neither without Caterina Valente. The sound level is self-supporting in Werner Schroeter’s works, it comments and  interferes permanently into the picture level, as an ironic quotation it suspends above the  scene. Besides works of high culture like Verdi, Wagner, Strauss and Rossini, trivial things occur: popular music and hits, everything forms a collage, a new unit. The French love Schroeter’s films. In France Schroeter is the German genius.

In 1967 on the occasion of the Festival of Experimental Films in Knokke Schroeter met Rosa von Praunheim. For the next few years both of them were a really creative couple shooting films, creating stars and sensations together. Different to Praunheim, who takes his homosexuality as a means of agitation, Schroeter consideres himself as an artist, whose homosexuality is an obvious part of his art and his personality. He doesn’t feel suppressed. In an interview he describes his homosexuality as a chance to devote oneself to women. Until she died of cancer Schroeter worked and lived closely together with Magdalena Montezuma, who determined his work. This artistic symbiosis continued also in Schroeter’s theatre work. His brilliant start of a theatre career with the rigorously choreographed Emilia Galotti at the Deutsches Schauspiehaus Hamburg in 1972 opened a long row of  productions, which always resulted in not only  scandals and excitement, but enthusiasm too. He is appreciated as a director for operas, and his singers rush in the scene, when he asks them for co-operation.

Fassbinder admired Schroeter and, according to his own statements, he learned a lot from him. After him Daniel Schmid, Ulrike Ottinger, Walter Bockmeyer and mainly Syberberg cribbed decisive things from him. Our homage honours the director, the person, his friends and co-operators.

The first room is dedicated to his film creations, and the stars are the central point. A little cabinet shows the co-operation with Elfi Mikesch. In the second room theatre productions and Schroeter’s public image form the foreground. The exhibits are mainly from the collection Werner Schroeter, which was acquired by the Deutsche Kinemathek in 2000.

Curator: Wolfgang Theis