Space for creative documentaries


Space for creative documentaries

Space for creative documentaries

Volume 1


Knowing that most of the work in documentary production is being done by the fi lmmakers

themselves, Filmquadrat started in 2002 as a platform for independents who wanted to make

their fi lms in shared responsibility.

Keeping this principle alive, today Filmquadrat has developed into one of the leading German

production houses for creative documentaries with a network of international contacts and

production offi ces in Munich and Cologne.

The minds behind the company are respected fi lmmakers themselves. With Rivers and Tides -

Andy Goldsworthy working with time Thomas Riedelsheimer created a documentary not only

highly acclaimed by the critics but a US and European box offi ce hit with a lasting impression.

Thomas Wartmann’s high end television documentaries received several awards and top

rankings with a broad audience. And Stefan Tolz’s multi-award winning feature documentary

On the Edge of Time became a ‘must-see for cinema lovers’ around the globe.

Creative fi lmmaking has been our base and will stay our business.

A mission we will follow. A promise you can count on.

02 03

Feature Documentary

Touch the Sound

A sound journey with Evelyn Glennie

Film by: Thomas Riedelsheimer

Length: 99 min. / 53 min.

Original Format: S16mm

Cooperation with: Skyline Prod. Edinburgh,

BR Bavarian Television / ARTE, YLE Finland

Supported by: German Film Funds (FFF,

FFA, BKM, Filmstiftung NRW), Scottish


Touch the Sound takes us on a remarkable journey with one of the world’s foremost musicians,

Evelyn Glennie. Being a Grammy-winning classical percussionist her solo work is unrivalled.

She is profoundly deaf, but nevertheless intensely able to listen.

Supported by her caring father, Evelyn overcame considerable obstacles to become an extraordinary

success. Through her, sound is palpable and rhythm is the basis of everything.

Without vibration, there is nothing. From silence to music, from hearing to seeing to feeling,

sound is experienced through every sense in our body.

Cinematographer and director Thomas Riedelsheimer demonstrates his gift for mapping a

world of senses, of colourful images and evocative sounds - be it in Japan, Scotland, California

or New York. Hearing images. Seeing sound. We see, hear and truly feel the beat of the universe.

We are transformed.

Thomas Riedelsheimer (*1963) studied Film in Munich and has been making

award-winning feature-length documentaries for almost 20 years. He is internationally-renown

both as director and cameraman. He also gives lectures on cinematography

and documentary fi lmmaking at various fi lm schools.

04 05

Feature Documentary

Between the Lines

Hijras – India’s Third Gender

Film by: Thomas Wartmann

Length: 95 min. / 52 min.

Original Format: DV 25p

Cooperation with: SWR / ARTE

Supported by: Bavarian Film Fund (FFF),

German National Film Fund (BKM)

Between the Lines documents the tremendous effort photographer Anita Khemka puts forth in

order to capture the life of the eunuchs of India - the Hijras - living as outcasts on the edge of


Offi cially the existence of Hijras is denied. And their universe itself is highly inconsistent: Hijras

are infertile - yet, according to the Hindu religion they have ‘a talent to spread fertility’. And

although they have no apparent sexual organs, the erotic is omnipresent in their everyday


Being a woman, and an Indian, Anita succeeds in becoming close to the Hijras. Something

which any Westerner - particularly a man - would never achieve. We follow Anita through India

with three Hijras - Lakshmi, Rhamba and Asha - on a journey that introduces us to a world of

fascination and the bizarre. Revealing their lives, their laughs, their celebrations. The prostitution.

And the struggles of what it means to be a ‘Hijra’.

Thomas Wartmann (*1953) studied journalism in Munich and later directing in Los

Angeles at the American Film Institute. He travelled as a journalist for major print

magazines (GEO, TransAtlantic, Stern) in Asia, Africa and South-America. Since

1994 he has developed, written and directed more than 25 documentaries.

06 07

Feature Documentary

Ebay World

Film by: Marcus Vetter, Stefan Tolz

Length: 90 min. / 52 min.

Original Format: DVC Pro 50, HD DV

Cooperation with: ZDF / ARTE, NDR

Supported by: Filmstiftung NRW,

Discovery Campus

eBay World brings to light people and stories from the eBay universe - the global Internet auction

house. It also explores this upstart company’s goal to advance the world by bringing

street-corner capitalism into every household on the planet. A worldwide selling network, with

millions of items listed for auction each day, eBay brings over 130 million customers everything

from classic automobiles to ripped t-shirts. Whether you’re online in Canada, Switzerland or

China - eBay is pure synergy. Cultural, social or political differences melt into one collective

thought - to buy and to sell.

Emanating from fi ve principal characters, eBay World illuminates cases of entrepreneurial spirit

and vaulting ambition, of compulsive buyers and ‘power sellers’.

eBay World reveals the ethos of the international marketplace - an economic democracy for

small time merchants or globalisation for one big business?

Stefan Tolz (*1966) studied Film in Munich and Tbilisi (Georgia) and

has been making documentaries for more than 15 years in cooperation

with the major German broadcasters. His fi lms received several

awards at international fi lm festivals, such as his feature documentary

On the Edge of Time, also theatrically released in Germany.

Marcus Vetter (*1967) has an academic background in Economics

and Media Communication. He has directed numerous prime time

documentaries and received the Adolf Grimme Award - ‘Germany’s

Emmy’ - three times. His feature documentary The Tunnel has been

one of the best-selling German documentaries in recent years.

08 09

Documentary Series

On the Search for Happiness

A worldwide journey along the Tropic of Cancer


Films by: Annette Dittert

Length: 4 * 52 min. / 4 * 43 min.

Original Format: HD CAM

Cooperation with: WDR

Supported by: Filmstiftung NRW

Annette Dittert (*1962) has been a TV journalist and editor for several years.

She also moderated numerous programs at WDR before heading the ARD Studio

in Warsaw for three years as a foreign correspondent. In 2004 she received

the well-respected Hans-Joachim-Friedrichs-Award for her extraordinary

achievements in journalism.


10 11



The strive for happiness is an age-old pursuit. And in a time in which depression is a modernday

phenomenon, it seems that many of us are at a loss in fulfi lling this most primal of desires.

But what does personal happiness actually mean? And how does one achieve its fortune?

In a series of four fi lms, we are taken on an adventurous and moving journey that circles the

globe - to visit places where oftentimes happiness appears least likely to be found. Using the

Tropic of Cancer as our guide, we traipse through lands where differences could not be

greater - Southern China, the islands of Hawaii, the deserts of Mali - and the slums of Kolkata

in India. We meet people whose backgrounds could be no diverse. Our fi lms’ ‘heroes’ are the

rich and the poor, the lonely and the loved, the educated and the simple-minded. They are

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist. And they all have precisely one thing in common -

each of them is on a personal journey to fi nd happiness, and the meaning of such in their lives.

Feature Documentary

Welcome to Wonderland

A pensioners paradise

Film by: Susan Gluth

Length: 80 min. / 52 min.

Original Format: S16mm, DV 25p

Supported by: Bavarian Film Fund (FFF)

Sun City, in the middle of the Arizona desert, appears like an enormous fabricated Disneyland

for the elderly. To live here, you must be at least 55 - and most inhabitants stay until the very

end. In three personal stories of women between 56 and 82 years old, this fi lm tells about age.

Coming from very different backgrounds, their ways of looking at life collide. Living together,

active in a retirement community is what they have chosen - but giving up individuality is not

easy in a place where everybody believes that his or her way to live is the only way to live. One

must compromise in this artifi cial city for pensioners in the unpleasant desert landscape. Sun

City stands for fun, and most of the people here organize their activities around this idea as a

way of turning their backs on ‘real life’. Yet loneliness and illness cannot be escaped.

Using the city as a mirror, Welcome to Wonderland refl ects the yearnings and anxieties of the

elderly. It is an interplay between the jovial, the absurd, and the melancholy within man’s life

- creating a stirring walk on the tightrope.

Susan Gluth (*1968) started her creative career as a photo assistant for beauty

and fashion photography in Hamburg. Having lived in Germany, Italy and

France she has worked in documentaries for the past 10 years. Among her

fi lms is the internationally acclaimed feature documentary Nulla si sa; tutto

s’immagina …secondo Fellini and her fi lm L’Amour chez Tati.

12 13

Documentary Series

Adobe Towns

Films by: Stefan Tolz / Thomas Wartmann

Length: 3 * 52 min. / 3 * 43 min.

Original Format: DigiBeta

Cooperation with: SWR / ARTE

Supported by: Bavarian Film Fund (FFF)

This trio of documentary fi lms portraying Djenné, Shibam and Yazd is devoted to the unique

adobe architecture characteristic of these ancient desert towns in Mali, Yemen and Iran.

Each fi lm describes the history, the cultural context, the knowledge, and the secrets of clay


Djenné - site of the fi rst fi lm - has been connected by trade with Timbuktu since earliest times

and became one of the most important marketplaces on the sub-Sahara trade routes. The

‘Grand Mosque’ of Djenné is considered to be the world’s biggest building made of clay.

The second part of the series depicts the Yemeni town of Shibam - ‘Chicago of the Desert’. Its

breathtaking skyline is comprised of 500 mud-brick houses, reaching up to nine-stories high

- an architectural legacy since the Antiquity, when Shibam was a major trading point on the

legendary ‘Incense Road’ upon the Arabian Peninsula.

Yazd, situated at the crossroads of two deserts in central Iran is the focus of the third and fi nal

fi lm. The extreme climate requires a hearty architecture. The wind towers developed for air

circulation inside the home have become a well-admired symbol of Yazd’s clever use of adobe


The different expressions of Islam that dominate life in the three cities are as well an integral

part of the series. While Black Islam in West Africa is strongly infl uenced by Animism, Orthodox

Shiites dominate the religious life in Yazd - and Shibam has one of the most distinguished

teaching centres of Sunnite Islam nearby.

14 15

TV Documentary

Arnim Stauth (*1957) has made many current affair

documentaries for WDR as a TV journalist and editor

since 1988. He has worked as a foreign correspondent

for the ARD in Moscow and served as war

correspondent in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been

nominated for the Emmy News awards and won

several international prizes.

Within recent years Dubai, the boom town of the United Arab

Emirates, has become a Mecca for entrepreneurs and adventures

from around the world. As a place of mere unlimited economic

opportunity the former little merchant town has risen to become a

symbol of wealth shining far beyond the Arabian Peninsula.

Introducing various fortune seekers within the city, this fi lm takes a

look behind the golden screens and curtains of palaces and skyscrapers.

As we peek into the life of a successful engineer from

New Zealand who oversees the construction of the world’s highest

building or of a Pakistani dockworker who slaves for minimumwage

to support his family back home, the diversity of the city

unfolds. Western values meet Islamic beliefs as an Irish reporter

chases her stories for the ‘Society Dubai’ magazine. And a young

business woman from a traditional family fi nds her way within a

male dominated environment.

What is the price to pay for this Dubai Experiment?

It seems like a never ending Arabian fairy tale. But will it last?

The Dubai Experiment

Film by: Arnim Stauth

Length: 52 min. / 43 min.

Original Format: HD Cam

Cooperation with: WDR

Supported by: Filmstiftung NRW

TV Documentary


Searching the Cuban Identity

Film by: Arnim Stauth

Length: 52 min. / 43 min.

Original Format: HD Cam

Cooperation with: WDR

Supported by: Filmstiftung NRW

Niurka is one of eight spirited women of an all-female band, playing self-written and traditional

Son music in the clubs of Santiago the Cuba, the musical capital at the eastern edge of the

island. They call themselves ‘Morenas’ - the ‘brown ones’ - referring to Cuba’s colonial history

as a melting pot of white and black, European immigrants and African slaves.

This fi lm describes the hopes and perspectives of Niurka and her peers in Cuban society and

contrasts their urban life with the reality in the nearby sugar plantations. Niurka as a single

woman in her late thirties, weighs the chances of ever having her own child while a countryside

doctor preaches the socialistic ideals of Ché Guevara, alongside his lectures of basic health

care for pregnant women.

A diverse journey of intimate emotion - Morenas is as much a search for personal fulfi llment, as

it is a quest for the heart of a Cuban identity. With music as an integral part of the equation.

16 17

Documentary Series

Living Heritage

Produced by: Thomas Wartmann

Length: 6 * 45 min. / 6 * 30 min.

Original Format: DVC Pro 50 25p / DV 25p

Cooperation with: UNESCO, SWR / ARTE

Supported by: Bavarian Film Fund (FFF)

Cultural aspects and their different forms of expression are riches that must be kept alive. In

2001 UNESCO began to name selective world customs as ‘masterpieces of traditional world

culture’ - a list that becomes extended every two years.

Living Heritage is a one of a kind series that follows the UNESCO designations, exploring

these unique sources of knowledge worldwide. Told from the protagonists’ point of view, each

fi lm has a chief characteristic - the dramatic contrast between young and old.

In cooperation with UNESCO, three masterpieces have been chosen for the pilot of the series:

Beyond Samarkand - a love story in Uzbekistan Life in the cultural region of Boyzun

Shadow boxing the Grim Reaper Filmed during the festival of the dead in Mexico

In the Land of Doctors Travelling with the Kallawaya healers in Bolivia and Peru

Richard Ladkani (*1973) is co-author of In the Land of Doctors and an award

winning director and cinematographer. His latest fi lm ‘The Devil‘s Miner’ is being

released in cinemas around the world and received the International Film Critic


Lisa Eder (*1966) is co-author of Beyond Samarkand. She has worked as a freelance

journalist and director of documentary fi lms for various German television


18 19

TV Documentary


Lapland between Ice and Hightech

Film by: Claudia Seifert

Length: 43 min. / 26 min.

Original Format: DigiBeta

Cooperation with: WDR / ARTE

Arjeplog is a quaint little town in Northern Sweden, surrounded by endless forests and more

than 800 lakes, just 80 km south of the Polar Circle. Every December, over 1,000 automobile

and equipment manufacturers from around the globe descend upon this town to use the frozen

lakes as testing grounds - with whining engines and squealing tires shattering all tranquillity.

This fi lm is much less a story of the latest car technology, or the big money involved in the

industry; instead, Arjeplog focuses on the impact that the conspicuously high proportion of men

(as compared to women) has on this town during the four-month testing period.

Åse Sundström is Arjeplog’s only local female icemaker, helping her father prepare the lakes

each year. But then a romance blooms and, as the saying goes: ‘Every winter, Arjeplog loses

one woman’. Åse Sundström tells her story.

Claudia Seifert (*1956) has worked as a free-lance journalist and fi lmmaker for

several years. She has also created various expositions with video installations,

and recently published a book on the childhood memories of women in the fi rst

decades of post-war Germany.

How often does one have the opportunity to sit amongst a group of young, privileged Iranian

students, in a resort hotel on the Caspian - chain-smoking, listening to the thumping of house

music on a weekend up from Tehran. The head-scarf ‘slips’ occasionally and we see familiar

streaks of bleach on dark hair, pierced ears and layers of make-up - yet witness a conversation

that is a telling example of an Iran that exists beyond the Western headlines.

This fi lm puts us intimately among the Iranians who live in, or travel to, the beloved region of

‘Shomal’ - Iran‘s northern coast at the Caspian Sea. Once a booming resort area with casinos,

bikini-wearing beachgoers and highly revered by the Pahlevi Shahs, life in Shomal became

very restricted after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Under reform-based president Khatami, restrictions loosened a bit. Many now dare to show

their skin and perhaps their true colors. Told cautiously to the western fi lm team, the words of

modest camping families, wealthy villa owners, sly caviar smugglers and angry rice farmers

draw a colorful, revealing view of today’s Iran.

TV Documentary


Riviera of the Mollahs

Film by: Stefan Tolz

Length: 52 min. / 43 min.

Original Format: DigiBeta

Cooperation with: SWR / ARTE

20 21

Documentary Series


Produced by: Thomas Wartmann

Length: 3 * 52 min. / 3 * 43 min.

Original Format: DigiBeta

Cooperation with: SWR / ARTE

Nomads is a series that tells exciting stories about travelling peoples. The negroid muslim

Bideyat tribe in the Ennedi mountains (Chad), the Changpa nomads in Ladakh (India) and the

‘Bamboo Caravan’ in Bangladesh.

Clearly the difference between nomads and settlers is explained in the biblical story of Cain

and Abel. Because he murdered his brother Abel, God damned Cain to travel around in restless

eternal migration remorsly.

Humans began to settle permanently only 11,000 years ago for the introduction of agriculture

and the domestication of wild animals. Nomadism is the primal life form of human beings.

It always has existed and it still lives on today. But nomadic life is threatened not only by the

effects of globalisation, making it diffi cult to sell traditional products on the markets, but by the

global climate change itself that sears pastures, threatens herds and dries fi shing grounds.

Young Mahmoud has to fi nd a hidden source in the Sahara, Wangschuk the way to a a buddhist

monastery in Ladakh, and old Nuru Chaka to outsmart the riverpirats of Bangladesh - to

be a nomad is a true fi ght for survival.

22 23

Documentary Series

The Last Applause

Film by: German Kral

Length: 90 min. / 53 min.

Original Format: DigiBeta

Supported by: German Film Fund (FFA)

Emotions run high when it comes to Argentina and Tango Music. And for a forgotten group of

tango singers - who played for years at the ‘El Bar del Chino’ on the outskirts of Buenos Aires -

the sentiments run deep. With the sudden death of the notorious club owner, the establishment

shut down; hence dropping the curtain on the singers’ performing career.

The Last Applause is a sympathetic journey with the nostalgic singers of this bar, who have

barely appeared in public ever since. As they battle to earn a living during the biggest economic

crisis in Argentinean history - reaching the borders of their resources and their strengths

- they pull together their simple dream: to perform one last time in concert together.

This is the story of a fantasy coming true - a group of tango singers basking in the warm

applause from an adoring audience. Perhaps for the fi nal time in their lives.

German Kral (*1968) was born in Buenos Aires and came to Germany in 1991

to study at the Munich Film School. He has worked as an independent fi lmmaker

and writer ever since. With Images of the Absence he won the Yamagata Film

Festival, and his latest documentary, Música Cubana, produced by Wim Wenders,

is being released theatrically in several European countries.

Achievements by the fi lmmakers

Thomas Riedelsheimer, Stefan Tolz and Thomas Wartmann

Adolf Grimme Award in Gold

Best Documentary

BAFTA Scotland Award

British Academy for Film and TV

Best Documentary

Graz International Mountain Filmfestival

Grand Prix

“Lola” German Filmprize

Best Camera

Best Documentary

Nomination for the European Film Award-

Best Documentary

San Francisco Critics Circle

San Diego Critics Circle

Best Documentary in the US

Films in competition in many International Filmfestivals

San Francisco International Filmfestival

Golden Gate Award

Golden Gate Award Grand Prize

Montreal International Filmfestival for Films on Art

Grand Prize

Genesis Award Los Angeles Locarno International Filmfestival

Prix Semaine de la Critique

Award of German Film Critics Asc.

Best Documentary

German Camera Prize

Bavarian Television Award

Leipzig International Documentary Filmfestival

Grand Prize “Golden Dove”

Mannheim International Filmfestival


Taiwan International Documentary Filmfestival

Grand Prize

Toronto International, Amsterdam IDFA, Rotterdam, Berlinale, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Vancouver, Montreal

New Films, Cork, Bangkok, Taiwan, Ghent, Locarno, Edinburgh, Toronto HotDocs, Los Angeles, Hongkong,

Thessaloniki, Viennale, Sheffi eld, Barcelona, Lisbon, United Nations International Filmfestival.

24 25


Staying fl exible is not only a principle of documentary storytelling, but also of our cut-to-fi t

production structure. Keeping the overheads low with a small and experienced team enables

Filmquadrat to bring together the right people for the right project. Not only is it the best base

for creative fi lmmaking, but makes effective fi nancing possible. It’s the best guarantee for

broadcasters, funders and fi lmmakers alike, that the money provided is really being spent for

the benefi t of their projects.

Markus Breimaier

Head of Production, Munich

After his studies of media management he worked as network

manager at the MEDIA funding program of the European Union

in Brussels, later as consultant for a management consulting

company, as well as in the department of media funds at Bavaria

Film. Besides managing fi lm projects, he also coordinates the

funding activities for Filmquadrat.

Michele Owen

Line Producer, Cologne

With nearly ten years of experience in producing documentaries,

commercials and still photography, she now heads the production

unit in Cologne. She has an academic background of international

relations and has worked throughout the US, Canada

and Europe which gives her a solid base for dealing with our

international partners.

Thomas Müller

Managing Director, Cologne

Heading his own PR agency in Cologne, and coming from a

background of business management and international relations,

he is in charge of the press related issues and keeps a professional

eye on the fi nances of the company.

26 27

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