WIM WENDERS AWARDS / CREDITS / download BIO (PDF)

OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY

Wim Wenders was born in Düsseldorf in 1945. After two years of studying medicine and philosophy and a yearlong stay in Paris as a painter he attended the University of Television and Film in Munich from 1967 to 1970.

One of the most important figures to emerge from the “New German Cinema” period in the 1970s, he was a founding member of the German film distribution “Filmverlag der Autoren” in 1971 and he established his own production company “Road Movies” in Berlin in 1975. Alongside directing atmospheric auteur films Wenders works with the medium of photography, and his poignant images of desolate landscapes engage themes including memory, time and movement.


A major survey of his photography, “Pictures from the surface of the Earth”, was exhibited in museums and art institutions worldwide. Wim Wenders has published numerous books with essays and photographs.

Wim Wenders became a member of the Academy of Arts Berlin in 1984. He was awarded honorary doctorates at the Sorbonne University in Paris (1989), the Theological Faculty of the University of Fribourg (1995), the University of Louvain (2005) and the Architectural Faculty of the University of Catania (2010). He is founding member and president of the European Film Academy and member of the order Pour le Mérite. Currently he is teaching film as a professor at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg.

Wenders lives in Berlin, together with his wife, photographer Donata Wenders.

 


 

Additional facts / supplemental information

Toddler WimThe name “Wim” is rather of Dutch origin and had occurred on Wim’s mother’s side of the family. The name had been decided upon by his parents, but was refused by the authorities on grounds that it was not “a proper German name”. The most similar-sounding name was Wilhelm and so his birth certificate and his passport state his full name as Ernst Wilhelm Wenders, Ernst being his godfather’s name.

 

Writing Wim returned to Germany in 1967, worked briefly in the Düsseldorf office of United Artists and that autumn entered the "Hochschule für Fernsehen and Film" (Graduate School of Film and Television), which had just been founded in Munich. (Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the rejects, and was so pissed off that he immediately started to make movies to show them...)

 

Between 1967 and 1970, parallel to his 3 years at the HFF, Wim also worked as a film critic and contributed to the film review "FilmKritik", to the Munich daily newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung.", to the magazine TWEN and DER SPIEGEL.

 

During the same period he finished several short films and in the hot summer of 1968 was arrested during a demonstration protesting against the assault on Rudi Dutschke. He was given a six and a half month suspended sentence for resisting arrest.

 

filming "The Goalkeepers Fear of the Penalty"In 1971, together with fourteen other German filmmakers, he started a production and distribution cooperative called "Filmverlag der Autoren". That company became the nucleus of the “New German Cinema”.

 

In 1976, he started "Road Movies Filmproduktion Inc." in Berlin, which produced over the years not only Wenders’ films, but was involved in more than a hundred productions and coproductions up to 2003. For a number years in the early 80s, Wim also had a production company in New York together with Chris Sievernich, Gray City Inc.

 

Contemplating the state of thingsIn 1977, he finished "The American Friend", his first international co-production which brought him to the attention of Francis Ford Coppola. In 1978, upon invitation of Coppola, he went to the United States to shoot “Hammett” for Zoetrope Productions, which occupied him, among other works, until 1982.

 

During various interruptions in the shooting of the film, Wenders made "Lightning over Water" (together with his friend, director Nicholas Ray) and then "The State of Things", which won him the Golden Lion at the Venice Festival of 1982, the first in a series of prestigious international acknowledgments.

 

Peter Handkes play 'Über die Dörfer'In the summer of 1982 Wim directed his first (and only) play, "Über die Dörfer" by Peter Handke for the “Salzburger Festpiele”.

 

Moving from Los Angeles to New York in 1982, Wim had started working on a script together with Sam Shepard whom he had first met in 1978, when he had wanted to cast him as Hammett. (The studio had refused Wenders’ choice at the time.) Wim had written afirst script based on Shepard’s “MotelChronicles”, but the two then decided to start from scratch. The film was then shot in the summer of 1983 and was eventually titled “Paris, Texas”.

 

1984 - member of the "Akademie der Künste" in Berlin. 1987 - publication of first photo book, "Written in the West" 1989 - honorary doctor title from the Sorbonne University in Paris 1991 - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Award in Bielefeld.

 

1984After “Tokyo-Ga”, a film on his favorite director, the great Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu, he made another documentary film a couple of years later on fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. “Notebook on Cities and Clothes".

 

In 2002 Wim directed 'Twelve Miles to Trona', a segment for the Nicholas McClintok project “Ten Minutes Older”. Fellow directors on this project were Jim Jarmush, Spike Lee, Chen Kaige, Werner Herzog, Aki Kaurismaki and Victor Erice.

 

Shaddow PlayHe shot a feature-length music documentary in Germany, “Ode to Cologne” with his friends from BAP, a Cologne based Rock’n Roll band who sing in their local language that needs subtitling in the rest of Germany.

 

Between 2001 and 2003 he also worked on “Soul of a Man”, his contribution to the 7-part BLUES series that was executive-producedand initiated by Martin Scorsese.

 

In 1987 he published his first book, “Written in the West”, with photographs from the American West. To date, numerous other books followed, including essays, photo books and accompanying publications for his films and exhibitions, including the book “Pictures from the Surface of the Earth”. Museums and galleries around the world have shown his photographs in solo exhibitions.

 

In 2006 Wim spent time in the Congo; contributing to a project for 'Medicos Sin Fronteras' the Spanish chapter of 'Doctors without Borders'. The resulting segment 'Invisibles', premiered at the 2007 Berlinale.