Born in 1945, Düsseldorf. Studied medicine and philosophy. He began writing film criticism while enrolled at the Academy of Film and Television in Munich.
He is a former chairman and later president of the European Film Academy. He is also a producer and teacher.
Filmography (selected): Kings of the Road (1976 – FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes), The State of Things (1982), Paris, Texas (1984 – Palme d’Or , FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes), Wings of Desire (1987 – Best Director at Cannes), Faraway, So Close! (1993 – Grand Prix of the Jury at Cannes), The Million Dollar Hotel (2000 – Jury Prize at Berlin), 8 (segment "Person to Person" - 2007), Palermo Shooting (2008), If Buildings Could Talk (short film - 2010).