director, author, producer
(* August 11, 1954 in Ludwigshafen – † September 11, 2022 in Unterdießen)
“Roland Reber’s films are finds of an independent cinema that is rare in the international cinema landscape.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Fritz Göttler)
Roland Reber was a writer, actor and director throughout his life, a rebel, dreamer and fantasist.
Reber began writing poems, essays and plays at a young age. He trained as a nurse for two years before going to the Bochum Drama School (under the artistic direction of Peter Zadek) in 1976 to study acting and devote more time to writing. He played, among other things, at the Schauspielhaus Bochum, in Essen with Hansgünther Heyme, in Düsseldorf, Lünen, Kingston/Jamaica, played in the SDR series Die kleine Heimat alongside Hanns Dieter Hüsch and had numerous guest appearances with his interpretation of Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo in German-speaking countries .
In his first feature film You have bent my soul like a beautiful dancer from 1979, he cast the roles with both professionals, such as ensemble members from the Bochum Schauspielhaus, as well as with talented amateur actors. The script served as a suggestion and the entire team had the right to have a say in the development and creation of the film. Reber has remained true to this principle in all of his other theater, film and book projects.
In 1980, Reber staged his play allsam at the Curio House in Hamburg, an experienced relationship drama that caused a lot of excitement thanks to its intense and drastic portrayal: “Extasy, tenderness and cruelty” (Hamburger Morgenpost). The scandal of this production was the honesty with which sexuality and violent fantasies were portrayed on stage. For some it was pathological, for others it was great drama. The Theater Pathology Institute (TPI) was born: “Just as in pathology corpses are opened to determine the cause of suffering, the Theater Pathology Institute wants to uncover the illness of society and the theater.” (Roland Reber)
The TPI, which later called itself the Theater Institute (TI), had a permanent venue in the Künstlerforumschulenburg in Hattingen and, from 1985, at the Heinz Hilpert Theater in Lünen.
From the late 80s, Reber moved to countries such as Egypt, Mexico, India and especially Jamaica as a theater maker and privately. In 1989, the TI developed into the world theater project WTP (in collaboration with the German, Russian, Caribbean and Mexican UNESCO Commission as part of the United Nations World Decade for Cultural Development). The ensemble of the world theater project was made up of artists from different countries such as Jamaica, Germany and India, who developed and performed the plays together with Reber in each country – theatre as dialogue. During this time he taught acting and directing in Moscow, New Delhi, Cairo and the Caribbean.
At the turn of the millennium, Reber devoted himself entirely to film again; the artist community wtp-kollektiv was created, a dynamic team that jointly designs projects and now consists of the film production wtp international GmbH and wtp-verlag – always independent in order to ensure creative freedom preserve.
With his feature films under his belt, Reber continued to travel the globe to numerous international film festivals, audience discussions and workshops to discuss the films and his style of collaborative, independent filmmaking. He received six international awards for his direction. He was an international jury member at the Cairo, Alexandria, Sitges/Spain, Fantasporto/Portugal and Dakha/Bangladesh Film Festivals. 2003-2007 he was the official representative of the Cairo International Film Festival for Germany and general representative for the Damascus International Film Festival for Europe.
He received as first European the cultural prize of the Caribbean Season of Excellence (1991 and 1993). For his directing of the feature film The Room (2000/2001) he received, amongst others the Emerging Filmmaker Award 2001 in Hollywood, the Jury Choice for Foreign Film 2001 in Chicago and the President’s Award 2000 in Ajijic/Mexico and the Best Film 2001 at the Third Panorama of International Film in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Reber had a special relationship with Hof. As early as October 1986 he performed his piece allsam at the Hofer Herbst. 19 years later, he became a regular guest with his films at the Hof Film Festival and discussed regularly and passionately with the Hof audience, even when he was already in a wheelchair after a stroke in 2015. On the occasion of his death, the Hof Film Festival 2022 dedicated the Roland Reber & wtp-kollektiv homage to this “exceptional artist” and “life rebel”. It was a moving farewell to Roland and also a departure for the entire wtp collective, which accompanied this retrospective, discussed it with the audience and presented the new projects. Even though Roland was an integral part of the wtp collective, the wtp collective continues to be creative with new film and book productions.
He will not live to see his final works published; Reber died in 2022, one day before his multimedia book “psst… Gedichte . Gedanken . Geschichten” went to print, his most personal work, a kind of quintessence of his artistic work.
His words and ideas live on.
Roland Reber on filmmaking:
“We are not a company that produces films, we are filmmakers. And for me that is a creative adventure and a holistic process – and one that is fun. I’m not a tamer who tells actors or film crew how to function. I see myself more as a conductor who simply coordinates the soloists and brings them together into a harmonious orchestra. That’s my definition of teamwork, so they’re not “my” films, they’re “our” films.”
“Almost every topic is now widely covered in the media: you get married on television, you cook, you look for a partner, you remodel your house, you save animals – everything becomes a multimedia show, everything is staged. The current media situation is only a mirror of our own lives, which everyone stages for themselves, but not according to their needs, but according to what is most effective for the viewer or the “ratings”. I only think about its meaning when the film is in the cinema and I discuss it with the audience. If I had a prefabricated interpretation from the outset, it would mean depriving the film, and ultimately the viewer, of the vision of their own thoughts. I see my style of cinema as an adventure of one’s own mind that provokes thought.”
“The way we work is characterized by the fact that it is not. I refuse to force myself into a corset. And when we give interviews or speak in front of an audience, it always looks like a stylistic device, it always looks like, yes, almost dogma, but that’s not it. I always surprise myself that the films get finished. I always wonder what they look like. And always ask myself, how could this happen? That’s the way we work, that we don’t have any. Creativity perhaps. But that’s part of any filmmaking. At least it should.”