Beating the Impostor Syndrom: Wim Wenders on the Film that Made him Feel Like a Real Filmmaker
The impostor syndrome.
We’ve all experienced it, in various areas of our lives, and as storytellers, even though we know there’s a limited number of themes that are told over and over again, stealing like an artist can sometimes feel like a heavy burden.
So I was pleasantly surprised and touched to hear no others than Wim Wenders talk about this moment where he already have 8 shorts films and three feature films under his belt, and yet, wasn’t feeling like a real filmmaker.
It’s during his Lifetime Achievement ceremony in Berlin that Wenders evoked the film, actress and moment that graduated him, and here is what he says:
The Impostor Syndrom: Wim Wenders on the Film that Made him Feel Like a Real Filmmaker
“Litte Alice… When we made that movie, and it’s no coincidence that it was Lisa [Kreuzer], Rudiger [Vogler], and little Alice [Yella Rotlander], who together made Alice in the Cities and that was the beginning of me as a filmmaker.
I had made theater films before, but I didn’t believe it was for me and I had it in me to make something that was entirely mine, that was my handwriting and that I didn’t owe to anybody else.
And I was a little desperate because I felt, if I make another film that I owe everything to Cassavettes or Hitchcock or Anthony Mann or whatever, then I’m going to give up, I have to be able to make something that doesn’t owe anything to anybody; and it became Alice in the Cities and it became that film because there was a little girl in it called Yella Rotlander.
Luckily you didn’t know the weight you had on your shoulders, and the guardian angel you were for me for the next twenty or thirty years.”
I find it encouraging to hear a man with five decades of experience, who gave 50 advice to filmmakers that spread everywhere, who is at the source of films considered classics and is still working talk about this moment of fragility and doubt, that doesn’t go away when you make your first feature, or get recognition, but when you finally feel like you are expressing your voice.
You can watch the full ceremony below and see another extract that I particularly like where Wenders talk about what connects and separates Lifetime and Film time.