Lights, camera, action: Portraits honour German film industry greats

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Lights, camera, action: Portraits honour German film industry greats
Photo: Jim Rakete

A new exhibition by photographer Jim Rakete timed to accompany the Berlinale celebrates the leading lights of Germany's film industry. Ruth Michaelson reports on the glamour.


The more than 100 portraits are 60-year-old Rakete’s “declaration of love for German film,” according to the Kunsthalle Koidl gallery.

The Berlin-based shutterbug began his career at 17, earning his own fame shooting international stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, and founding the legendary photo agency “The Fabrik.”

A major supporter of the German film industry, particularly new talent, his warmth toward the subject is immediately apparent inside the unusual-looking building in the Charlottenburg district.

“It’s a former transformer substation,” curator Christine Nippe told The Local. “Jim was very interested in the building - he really fell in love with it.”

The dark brick exterior gives way to a surprisingly airy gallery space, where the portraits offer an intimate look at the German film industry’s greats, from seasoned actors like Sebastian Koch (one of the stars of "The Lives of Others"), to those renowned for their work behind the scenes, such as camerawoman Judith Kaufmann.

Each subject poses with an item from a film they have worked on, staring directly into the lens, often with a small playful smile.

Click here for photographs included in the show.

The portraits are expressive and natural, making it easy to see that the subjects enjoyed the process of being photographed by Rakete. Actress Jeanette Hain goes as far as being photographed naked with only a cello for company in the middle of a forest.

The project was initially commissioned by the Museum of German Film in Frankfurt to photograph a small “hall of fame” style series, but it swelled to its current size thanks to enthusiasm from contributors.

The resulting body of work took over a year to shoot and offers an intimate glimpse into German film culture, even for those without Berlinale-grade knowledge.

“First and foremost these are simply beautiful portraits,” said Nippe. “But it also teaches so much about German film.”

The title, Stand der Dinge, or “The State of Things” originates from a Wim Wenders film about a film crew finding ways to pass the time on the Portuguese coast while their director leaves to obtain more funding.

“The title is key to understanding that there is a critique inside of Jim’s homage,” said Nippe. “He wants to show that with all the funding that they have, they could do more to reach international recognition.”

“I think he wants to show how much talent there is here, but to push them a little, to show how the industry could develop. He is looking to the future.”

“Stand der Dinge” runs until March 11 at Kunsthalle Koidl, where guided tours are also offered. It will also appear at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt am Main beginning in June.


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