Wim Wenders Wows Fans At NCCU

The packed auditorium evidenced the enthusiasm with which German film director Wim Wenders was welcomed to NCCU. Those who could not find seats sat on the floor or simply stood for the duration of the Q&A session with the acclaimed director of Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. Wenders spoke to the mostly Taiwanese audience through translation by Taiwanese Director Arvin Chen. Wenders is the executive producer of Chen's first feature film, First Page Taipei, and one of the reasons for his visit was to check out locations for the film.

The lively discussion with the NCCU audience took place at the auditorium of the College of Communication at 7pm on Friday October 31st. Questions submitted beforehand were randomly selected by the moderator, but Wenders, explaining that he preferred to interact personally with the audience, also took questions directly from persons present on a wide range of topics, not all relating to film. In his soft-spoken but jovial style, he entertained with interesting anecdotes from his life, like the time he traded his saxophone for a movie camera at a pawnshop, ending his music career. Following is a sample of Wenders' thoughts on movies and life.

On defining cinema... I feel it would be wrong if I would actually be able to answer it (the question). Of course, I could say I made 30 movies but the very fact that I made 30 movies makes me unable to answer the question...

On how photography influences movies... A photograph contains in itself always a complete story except that it doesn't really show it. You as a person looking at a photograph can imagine what happened before and what happened after. It's up to you. To see a photograph in a film for me is always very touching. Each time I see a photograph in a movie, I love the movie much better.

On the music in his films... Music is part of the very substance of the film and very often I write my scripts and do my music, but sometimes I ask the musicians when I'm shooting a film to write music for me.

On love and angels in "Wings of Desire"... When I came up with these angels I didn't really have a script; just some notes. One day, I came up with the idea of guardian angels. At the time, I didn't really believe in angels. I thought they were a metaphor for the better people we have inside, so of course they would fall in love with a woman. They don't know what it feels like to touch someone, they don't know taste...I mean even stinky tofu would be a mystery to them. That's why I had angels fall in love... Although I didn't believe in angels when I started the movie, by the time I finished, I really believed in them because we had so many things happen during the movie and by the time I was done, I thought I had a guardian angel.

On loneliness... A lot of my films have dealt with the question and the beautiful thing is you can learn from the movies. Loneliness has a very bad reputation. I've found out that if you're able to be lonely, you can also be much better together with someone.

On what is youth... There is a great line in a song by Bob Dylan; I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now. Youth is the same thing. When I was young, I always dreamt of getting older and now I'm really childish. You see people and you still see in some of their faces the children they used to be, and then there are children who already look like old people. I really like people who've kept their childhood in them, not only in their face, but also in their heart.

On what he does when things are not going right... It happens all the time in the course of a movie (that) you can't get something. Either you don't have money, weather, location... You can't get into a certain location and it rains for four weeks when you want sunshine. A lot of the obstacles are directly related to money. I find most of the time it works out if you replace the lack of something with imagination. It sounds really cheesy but if you can't always get what you want it makes you even more certain about your story. So sometimes, it's stupid to stick with your original idea and bang your head against the wall. Most of the time, you're better off incorporating the obstacles into your work.

On the type of story he would tell if he were to make a film about Taiwan... It would certainly be a story about somebody who is a newcomer and is confronting a situation that is surprising.

On what an apple would say to him if it could talk... As I'm a film director, the apple is not just gonna say eat me, but it will say can you cast me in one of your movies and eat me in front of the camera? Because the apple can become immortal in front of the camera.

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/Jeana Noel    Photo/Julien Liu