Room 666: Wim Wenders asks fellow Directors about the state of Cinema, from 1982

During the Cannes Film Festival in 1982, Wim Wenders set-up a static camera in a room at the Hotel Martinez. He then invited a selection of directors to answer a series of questions on the future of cinema:

“Is cinema a language about to get lost, an art about to die?”

The directors, in order of appearance were:

Jean-Luc Godard
Paul Morrissey
Mike De Leon
Monte Hellman
Romain Goupil
Susan Seidelman
Noël Simsolo
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Werner Herzog
Robert Kramer
Ana Carolina
Maroun Bagdadi
Steven Spielberg
Michelangelo Antonioni
Wim Wenders
Yilmaz Güney

Each director was allowed 11 minutes (one 16mm reel of film) to answer the questions, which were then edited together by Wenders and released as Room 666 in 1982. Interestingly each director is positioned in front of a television, which is left on throughout the interview. It’s a simple and effective film, and the most interesting contributors are the usual suspects. Godard goes on about text and is dismissive of TV, then turns tables by asking Wenders questions; Fassbinder is distracted (he died within months) and quickly discusses “sensation oriented cinema” and independent film-making; Herzog is the only one who turns the TV off (he also takes off his shoes and socks) and thinks of cinema as static and TV, he also suggests movies in the future will be supplied on demand; Spielberg is, as expected of a high-grossing Hollywood film-maker, interested in budgets and their effect on smaller films, though he is generally buoyant about the future of cinema; while Monte Hellman isn’t, hates dumb films and tapes too many movies off TV he never watches; all of which is undercut by Turkish director Yilmaz Güney, who talks the damaging affects of capitalism and the reality of making films in a country where his work was suppressed and banned “by some dominant forces”.

Take a look:


Neu Welle

In 1962, inspired by the French New Wave, a group of West German filmmakers issued the Oberhausen Manifesto, which called for “the new German feature film.”

The collapse of the conventional German film finally removes the economic basis for a mode of filmmaking whose attitude and practice we reject. With it the new film has a chance to come to life. German short films by young authors, directors, and producers have in recent years received a large number of prizes at international festivals and gained the recognition of international critics. These works and these successes show that the future of the German film lies in the hands of those who have proven that they speak a new film language. Just as in other countries, the short film has become in Germany a school and experimental basis for the feature film. We declare our intention to create the new German feature film. This new film needs new freedoms. Freedom from the conventions of the established industry. Freedom from the outside influence of commercial partners. Freedom from the control of special interest groups. We have concrete intellectual, formal, and economic conceptions about the production of the new German film We are as a collective prepared to take economic risks. The old film is dead. We believe in the new one.

Oberhausen, February 28, 1962

Bodo Blüthner Boris von Borresholm Christian Doermer Bernhard Dörries Heinz Furchner Rob Houwer Ferdinand Khittl Alexander Kluge Pitt Koch Walter Krüttner Dieter Lemmel Hans Loeper Ronald Martini Hansjürgen Pohland Raimond Ruehl Edgar Reitz Peter Schamoni Detten Schleiermacher Fritz Schwennicke Haro Senft Franz-Josef Spieker Hans Rolf Strobel Heinz Tichawsky Wolfgang Urchs Herbert Vesely Wolf Wirth

This attempt at a new, meaningful film culture, although not economically successful, did eventually evolve into a strong industry that was receiving international acclaim by the late 60s and on into the 70s. Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Volker Schlöndorff stood in the forefront of this Neu Welle, the German "New Wave".

Wim Wenders, one of the Neu Welle directors stated "All my films have as their underlying current the Americanization of Germany. I see my own films as American". As the international popularity of these German dirctors increased, motion picture attendance in West Germany continued to decline. These films challenged tradition and were often critical of bourgeois society and irreverent in their treatment of German history.