Focus on Pina

Focus on Pina

Pina is one of the films of the Official Selection of the LUX Film Prize 2011. It is a film for Pina Bausch. Shot in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, this feature-length dance film portrays the exhilarating and inimitable art of this great German choreographer who died in the summer of 2009. Inviting the viewer on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension right onto the stage of the legendary ensemble, the film also accompanies the dancers beyond the theatre, into the city and the surrounding industrial landscape of Wuppertal – the place that was the home and centre of Pina Bausch’s creative life for more than 35 years.

Wim Wenders' superb 3D German/French documentary Pina has been selected out of competition at the Berlinale, the 30th Istanbul Film Festival and the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival and has been awarded Best documentary at the 61st Lola-German Film Awards.

Wim Wenders was deeply impressed when in 1985 he saw "Café Müller" by choreographer Pina Bausch. Out of the meeting of the two artists grew a long-standing friendship and with the passage of time the plan for a joint film. However, putting the plan into action failed for a long time because of the limited possibilities of the medium. The defining moment finally came for Wim Wenders when the Irish Rock band U2 presented their digitally produced 3D concert film. Wenders began in 2008 together with Pina Bausch to consider the realization of their shared dream. Together with Wim Wenders, Bausch selected "Café Müller", "Le Sacre du printemps", "Vollmond" and "Kontakthof" from her repertoire and added them to her 2009/2010 season.

In early 2009, Wim Wenders and his production company Neue Road Movies, together with Pina Bausch and the Ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, began the phase of  pre-production. After half a year of intensive work, and only two days before the planned 3D rehearsal shoot, Pina Bausch died on June 30th 2009, suddenly and unexpectedly. Wim Wenders immediately stopped preparations, convinced that the movie, without Pina Bausch, should no longer be pursued.

After a period of mourning and reflection and encouraged by many international appeals, the consent of the family, and the request of staff and dancers of the ensemble who were just about to start rehearsing the pieces selected for the film, Wim Wenders decided to make the film without Pina Bausch at his side, after all. Her inquiring, affectionate look at the gestures and movements of her ensemble and every detail of her choreography was still alive and present and inscribed into the bodies of her dancers.

The new film concept includes, in addition to excerpts from the four productions of "Café Müller", "Le Sacre du printemps", "Vollmond" and "Kontakthof", carefully selected archive footage of Pina Bausch at work, innovatively inserted in the 3D world of the film as a third element, with many imaginative, short solo performances by the dancers of the ensemble. To achieve this, Wim Wenders used Pina Bausch's own method of "questioning" with which the choreographer developed her new productions. She posed questions and her dancers answered not in words, but with improvised dance and body language.

Produced by Neue Road Movies, Eurowide Film Production and Arte France, Pina is distributed by Les Films du Losange, NFP teleart GmbH & Co KG, Artificial Eye, Cinéart and Cinéart Netherlands B.V. It has been released on 6 April in France, 14 April in Switzerland, 22 April in UK, 4 May in Belgium and Luxembourg and 7 July in Netherlands and is internationally sold by HanWay Films.


Interview with director Wim Wenders:

You experienced the worst that can happen to a film, the death of the main character. Didn't the death of Pina Bausch also mean the death of this film project?
Pina was more than the "main character". She was the reason itself to make this film. We were in the middle of preparations, immediately before the first 3D test shoot with the ensemble in Wuppertal, when we received the news of Pina's abrupt death. Yes, of course, we immediately stopped everything. It seemed pointless to make the movie. After all, Pina and I had dreamed of this project together for twenty years! Originally a spontaneous suggestion from me to Pina in the mid-eighties to make a film together, it gradually became a kind of "running gag" between us. Pina would ask: "What about doing it now, Wim?" and I would answer: "I still do not know how, Pina! "I just had no idea how to film dance - even after studying all sorts of dance films. The Tanztheater of Pina Bausch has such freedom and joy energy, such physicality, and is so full of life, I really did not know how to film it appropriately - until one day I caught the first glimpse of the new digital 3D, in 2007. That's when I called Pina, still from the cinema: "Now I know how, Pina." I didn't have to say more, she understood.

And you started immediately?
It took a little bit longer. At closer inspection, the technology was not ready. It was good enough for animation and blockbuster movies, but to render movements naturally we had to wait. We then started to plan the movie two years ago, and prepared the shoot for the fall of 2009 - the first moment, really, our project was technically possible. Well, and then Pina was suddenly gone. I immediately pulled the plug and stopped the preparations. After all, the film was completely written for and with Pina. We wanted to watch her in rehearsals, accompany her on tour with her ensemble, and Pina would have introduced as herself to her kingdom ...

Only weeks later it dawned on us: the pieces that Pina and I had put together on the programme of her theatre so that they could be filmed, were about to be rehearsed by the dancers, and it was they who were saying: "In the coming months we will perform all the pieces you both wanted to record so much. You cannot leave us alone. You have to film this! Now more than ever!" And they were absolutely right! Right now Pina's look was still on everything! We therefore took up the project again with the aim that in October we could at least record "Café Müller", "Le Sacre du Printemps" and "Vollmond" in 3D. We were not able to achieve any more at that moment. After all, the whole concept had to be radically changed. From a joint film, which we had planned to co-direct, we now had to switch to something entirely different. Only on the second and third shoot in April and June 2010, we were finally able to bring the film to an end.

Via Cineuropa and Pina's official website