People understandably like to talk about the notable artists they have met during the course of their lives. Yet, one of the moments that I think about the most of my career as an arts presenter is the time when I did not meet Wim Wenders at the Venice International Film Festival in 2016.
Wenders is one of my all-time filmmakers. The celebrated German director was one of the key figures of the New German Cinema of the ’70s. He has directed such films as Alice in the Cities, Wings of Desire, The American Friend and Paris, Texas.
As well as his films, I also like the way his mind works. I have read his texts on cinema and refer to them quite a lot. In fact, they too have helped shape the way I think about film today.
In 2016, Wenders was presenting his latest film at the Venice International Film Festival. It was a 3D movie named The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez, based on a play of the same name by Peter Handke.
In reality, the film was rather underwhelming. It raised many eyebrows. At the time, it was criticized for being self-conscious and generally dull. However, I personally appreciated the beauty of its images. I also appreciate the way that Wenders, at this point in his career, is so revered that he is unafraid to experiment with certain artistic concepts.
That year, as I have done for most of the past decade of my life, I was covering the festival for FRED Film Radio. The opportunity arose to record an interview with Wenders himself. I jumped at it.
I knew the interview could not be long, which was a shame. But I didn’t particularly care. I never really get starstruck. But to me, the prospect of meeting one of my heroes and documenting an encounter with me was simply irresistible. So, I guess my primary motive for recording the interview on this occasion was mostly selfish.
The story of why the interview did not happen is not very interesting. A publicist’s misunderstanding and a general carelessness of the organizing staff are mostly to blame. It’s possible that Wenders, upset with the reaction to his film, simply did not care to talk all that much about it.
In any case, at first, I was mortified and heartbroken. What I noticed is that, for the remainder of the festival, I continued to interview notable guests and sometimes really big stars. But I found the disappointment I experienced regarding that missed Wenders opportunity empowering.
It was as if that disappointment had shielded me from feeling any type of intimidation towards the other guests I interviewed, no matter how big. Because I had missed THE interview; the one that would have meant the most to me. It was like a Kierkegaardian phenomenon.
It wasn’t the first time I have realized in my life that disappointment too is an energy. As such, it can neither be created nor destroyed but can be transformed. It is a matter of how you can use that energy and what you can transform it into. That’s how something apparently negative at first can be turned into something incredibly positive.