In town for the Taipei Film Festival, German director Helma Sanders-Brahms talks about her fondness for Taiwan, her frustrating experiences with filmmaking in Germany and how she finally came around to liking Johannes Brahms’ music
TT: How did you come to know Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1969?
HS: There were two European countries that made beautiful films at that time: France and Italy. In Italy, there were two successful kinds of films. On one side of the spectrum, there is art-house cinema and Pasolini. On the other side, there are spaghetti westerns.
I went down to Italy to conduct interviews for a television show. I met Pasolini, and he immediately told me, “You are going to make films.” I didn’t know why and how, but he saw that in me and offered me a place on the set of Medea.
I also worked with the spaghetti western people. I was a handyperson. I learned and helped wherever I could, and the crew called me “the German spy” [laughs]. It was my film school — and an extremely good one.
Sergio Corbucci [an Italian director best known for his spaghetti westerns] was a very nice guy and a friend of Pasolini. It was kind of like a big family back then. Pasolini was a dark, gloomy guy. Corbucci was sensual and happy. It was a nice balance to me.