German director Wim Wenders has long ranked as among the major directors of world cinema, thanks to films such as Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, Until the End of the World and the Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club.
Wenders always has liked pushing creative boundaries, and his new film Pina, which captures the inventive dance routines of the late choreographer Pina Bausch, is shot in 3D -- a feat for a filmmaker known mostly for art house movies.
The documentary opens December 23 in New York and by mid-January will begin rolling out to theaters in major U.S. cities. Wenders spoke to Reuters about making the film.
Q: A 3D dance film. Did people think you were crazy?
A: (Laughs) Yes, they didn't quite understand why I would do it.
Q: Why, then? I've read you tried and failed to make Pina for many years?
A: It's true -- for 20 years Pina and I talked about it after I'd suggested it, and it became this joke between us. She'd ask me about it from time to time, and I'd just say, 'I don't know how to make it yet.' I studied all these dance films, but I still had no idea how to film dance or capture the sheer joy and freedom of Pina's work. And then I saw U2's U2 3D in Cannes, and it just hit me -- we had to do it in 3D. That was the only way.
Q: But Pina died very suddenly. Did you want to give up?
A: Yes, because it was such a shock. She died just two days before we were finally ready to start shooting in 2009. But then all her dancers and friends and family felt we should go ahead anyway, so we did.
Q: There are quite a few firsts here. It's the first 3D art-house film, and one of the first 3D European films. Do you feel like a pioneer?
A: In a way. It was the first 3D film ever in Germany. When we started making the film back in 2009, 3D was still relatively new, and you couldn't just go out and rent the camera equipment. So we had to make all the gear ourselves, and my stereographer custom-made it all. Now you can just go out and rent all sorts of rigs, but we did feel like pioneers. There was no one we could call to discuss it or get advice.
Q: What about James Cameron?
A: (Laughs) I didn't have his number, and back then 'Avatar' was still a rumor, and I only saw it much later, when I was editing this.
Q: Dance projects can often be deeply serious, but there's a lot of humor in this film. Was that always the intention?
A: Yes, I thought it was very important to bring out all the comedy in Pina's work because she was so funny herself. She loved to laugh, and even though we were making it under very serious circumstances as she'd just passed away, we all remembered how she was when her companion and life partner also died very young and suddenly. She didn't stop working, and did some of her most joyful work during that very sad period. She just channeled all her sorrow and pain into her dance, and she really believed that with dance, she could solve things. And we all felt the same way with this. We didn't want it to drown in sorrow. If we were going to make this film, it should represent that side of Pina.
Q: You've done a lot of music projects, including the blues film The Soul of a Man, Willie Nelson at the Teatro and The Million Dollar Hotel which was based on a story by U2's Bono. Do you have more music projects coming up?
A: 'Buena Vista Social Club' started with a very different plan. Ry Cooder and I went to Havana to shoot all these Cuban musicians as well as musicians from Mali, but then the guys from Mali couldn't get visas. So we ended up just filming the Cubans, and it all just happened by default. And ever since I keep thinking about the guys from Mali who never made it to Havana, so I still have plans to make that film one day. But I'll have to go to Mali.