When the doc slate for last autumn’s Toronto International Film Festival was first unveiled, the attention on new efforts from directors such as Herzog, Broomfield and Spurlock meant Wim Wenders’ latest – a 3D dance film inspired by the life of late German choreographer and ballet director Pina Bausch – was almost overlooked.
However, by the end of TIFF there was no doubt that Pina 3D was one of the year’s best films, with sold-out screenings and a huge festival buzz. The film opened strongly at the U.S. box office in December, is in the running for two Oscars, and is 94% ‘fresh’ on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
At the heart of the film’s praise has been Wenders’ innovative use of 3D, which intimately draws out the emotional performances put on by Bausch’s dance troop. Although he is best known in the doc realm for his Oscar-nominated effort Buena Vista Social Club, critics are calling Pina Wenders’ best non-fiction work in more than a decade.
What inspired you to shoot Pina in 3D?
Ever since our first encounter, Pina [Bausch] and I had been talking about a common film for 20 years. The fact that it took so long had never been [due to] a lack of enthusiasm or desire to do it – the problem was simply, the more I tried to imagine a dance film the less I knew how to do it.
The solution one day presented itself in an area I had never looked in before: in technology. My first exposure was a concert film, U2 3D. I went not expecting much from the experience other than to have fun. And then I just stared at the screen, flabbergasted, because what I saw was the answer to 20 years of trying to find a way to film dance.
Were you expecting the film to be a hit?
This is one of the majestic things about filmmaking: you don’t know, you can’t know, if a film will hit a nerve or not, if it becomes a thing that people can really use in their lives, that can grow and create its own momentum.
Will you shoot in 3D again?
I’m starting a long-term 3D-documentary in Europe, on architecture. I have no inclination to go back to 2D, both in non-fiction and in fiction. Technology advances fast, and we have just seen the very beginning of what 3D is able to do. Why would I want to go back, after Pina? We just scratched the surface!