Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Born in Bavaria, Germany during the American occupation after World War II, Fassbinder was raised by his mother after his parents divorced. He became addicted to movies early (“Cinema was the family life I never had at home,” he later said), and began making films by the time he was twenty. In 1967 he joined an activist theater group that produced anti-establishment plays. Honing his skills as both actor and director, he began a 16-year career of astonishing productivity, directing over forty films and television productions. His body of work put him at the forefront of the New German Cinema movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Fassbinder’s films were often intense social melodramas that sometimes contained gay characters and subplots and were sharply critical of bourgeois capitalist society. With his 1974 film, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, he achieved international recognition, and his films were shown in festivals around the world. A very public and flamboyant figure, he died at age 37 from drug and alcohol poisoning.