German cinema pioneer Schroeter dead at 65

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Werner Schroeter, one of the leading lights of 1970s-era New German Cinema and a pioneer of gay filmmaking, has died at age 65, a museum said Tuesday.

Schroeter, who had suffered from cancer, succumbed late Monday after an operation in the central city of Kassel, Anne Jung, a spokeswoman at Berlin s Gay Museum which is showing an exhibition on the director s work, told AFP.

The maverick filmmaker, who was also a theatre and television director, was a contemporary of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders but did not share their relative commercial success.

An admirer dubbed the master of melodrama German cinema s greatest marginal film-maker .

He was a great artist in every sense of the word, the Portuguese producer of his last film This Night , Paulo Branco, told AFP.

He was someone who embodied the systematic search for beauty, taking constant artistic risks. Fassbinder himself said he might be the best of the group.

Schroeter began his career in underground cinema in the 1960s, in frequent collaboration with another prominent gay director, Rosa von Praunheim, who remained a close friend throughout his life.

His often challenging films showcased outsiders – gays, immigrants and other sidelined people – in fragmented plots and highly stylized settings, with music playing a key supporting role.

Perhaps inspired by his globe-trotting childhood with peripatetic parents, Schroeter s films were set in far-flung locales including the Philippines, Mexico, Lebanon, France, Italy and Portugal.

Schroeter also worked as a cinematographer and actor, appearing in Fassbinder s 1971 picture Beware of a Holy Whore as well as several stage plays.

In February, Schroeter was awarded an honorary Teddy Award for cinema with gay themes at the Berlin Film Festival, where he won the Golden Bear top prize in 1980 for Palermo or Wolfsburg about an Italian guest worker in Germany. -AFP

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