At this year's Telluride Film Festival, Wenders explained that the project to capture Pina Bausch's creations began years ago, but he felt the dance films he'd seen did not do justice to the art form. Once he and Pina saw what 3D contributed, they began in earnest on this film. And then, unexpectedly, in 2009, Bausch died and Wenders felt he could not continue the project. The dancers and Bausch's fans interceded to persuade Wenders to complete the film as a fitting tribute to Pina's work. Wenders added brief comments by the main dancers and collaborators, intercutting their thoughts as punctuation here and there throughout the film, shooting them in medium close-up against a blank background so as not to detract from the dances.
The focus of Pina remains, as it certainly should, on selections from the repertoire of Pina's Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble. Each presents unique, provocative, often profound, and stimulating dance artistry. Some pieces are staged outdoors, on islands in the middle of intersections, on the edge of a woods, in a glass enclosure. Others occur in a room or on a theater stage, covered with dirt in one instance and flooded with water in another piece in which the performers hurl and kick water at each other.
The dancers are sometimes ecstatic, sometimes angry, perhaps in love or despair, celebrating freedom or struggling against entrapment. Always their movements—flowing or jagged, mechanistic or lyrical—along with the evocative music and colors powerfully convey the moods and ideas. Included are selections from Bausch's famous Café Müller, Vollmond, and Le Sacre du Printemps, among many others. Wenders' Pina is transporting audiences, dance aficionados or not. It is among the five nominees a Best Documentary Academy Award, to be awarded February 26th.
The dancers' comments in a variety of languages have English subtitles. The dances, which certainly need no subtitles to communicate, are in stunning 3D.