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Wim Wenders’ Monumental Documentary ‘Anselm’ To Stream On The Criterion Channel March 19

EXCLUSIVE: Wim Wenders’ stunning documentary Anselm will begin streaming exclusively on The Criterion Channel this coming Tuesday, March 19, following its theatrical run and world premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The film shot in 3D, which explores the monumental work of German-born artist Anselm Kiefer, earned three nominations from the Cinema Eye Honors, was named Best Documentary by the Columbus Film Critics, won the Audience Award at the Santa Fe International Film Festival and won Best Score at the International Documentary Association Awards, recognizing the music by composer Leonard Küßner. Anselm was nominated for the L’Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) award at Cannes, a competition for the festival’s best documentary.

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The Criterion Channel launch will include a new interview with the director as part of Criterion’s “Meet the Filmmakers” series.

Artist Anselm Kiefer rides a bicycle in his cavernous studio space in France.
Artist Anselm Kiefer rides a bicycle in his cavernous studio space in France.

“In Anselm, Wim Wenders creates a hypnotic portrait of Anselm Kiefer, one of the most innovative and important painters and sculptors of our time,” notes a release about film’s Criterion Channel debut. “Shot in 6K resolution—and released theatrically in 3D—the film presents an immersive cinematic experience of the German artist’s work, which explores the overawing beauty of human existence, landscape, and myth, and confronts the horrors of his country’s history, seeking to undo the postwar silence in which Kiefer came of age. Through archival footage, reenactment, and direct access to his subject at work in the massive installation in Southern France where he now lives amid his creations, Wenders traces the arc of Kiefer’s career, provoking an engagement with creativity through the senses, intellect, and spirit.”

'Perfect Days' actor Kji Yakusho and director Wim Wenders attend the 96th Annual Oscars held at at the Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
‘Perfect Days’ actor Kji Yakusho and director Wim Wenders attend the 96th Annual Oscars.

Wenders’ narrative film, Perfect Days, earned an Oscar nomination this year for Best International Feature Film. He has collected three other Academy Award nominations during his career, for the documentaries Buena Vista Social Club (2000), Pina (2012), and The Salt of the Earth (2015).

Deadline’s Damon Wise, in a review in Cannes, called Anselm “extraordinary,” writing it “reminds viewers of the thrill of being in the presence of great art.”

Painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer
Painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer

Kiefer, who was born in the Black Forest town of Donaueschingen, Germany in March 1945, the waning days of WWII. He long painted and sculpted in obscurity, but eventually became recognized as one of the world’s greatest artists. As seen in the documentary, Kiefer creates paintings and sculptural work of a massive scale. His “workshop” in France equals the size of several airport hangars.

The documentary captures the “abuse” to which Kiefer subjects many of his canvases. “He would shove his paintings into an oven and bake them, because he likes to see time eating them up,” Wenders told Deadline in an interview. “Some of them have been out in the open, subjected to rain and frost and snow, whatever, for years, and then he brings them back inside and continues work on them. He likes time to be incorporated.”

(L-R) Manuela Lucá-Dazio, Anselm Kiefer, Wim Wenders, Anton Wenders, Daniel Kiefer, and Donata Wenders attend the 'Anselm' premiere in Cannes.
(L-R) Manuela Lucá-Dazio, Anselm Kiefer, Wim Wenders, Anton Wenders, Daniel Kiefer, and Donata Wenders attend the ‘Anselm’ premiere in Cannes.

As Deadline reported in December, Anselm is interspersed with dramatized moments from the artist’s life. The filmmaker’s grandnephew, Anton Wenders, plays a young Anselm, and Kiefer’s own son, Daniel Kiefer, portrays the artist when he was in his 30s. It took some convincing to get Daniel Kiefer to take on that role, Wenders noted.

“I told him, ‘Come on, Daniel. Now you’re going to have to play this because I don’t know anybody else who could do it so truthfully.’ And he said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not an actor.’ I said, ‘Your father’s not an actor either. He’s in the movie,’” Wenders told Deadline in December. The director added, “Daniel said, ‘But then I have to call [my dad] and ask him permission.’ And I said, ‘No, you’re not going to call him and tell him, because your father only had one condition that he asked me — If you make this film, then don’t show me a treatment. Don’t show me anything. Don’t tell me what you’re doing. You can do whatever you want, but just promise me you will surprise me in the end.’ And I promised that. And then I said to his son, ‘If you tell him you’re going to play him when he was a 35-year-old man, you’re going to spoil my surprise. So you are not going to call him because he would not want you to call. He would want to be surprised by it.’ So, we surprised Anselm, among other things, by the appearance of his own son as his younger self.”

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