In the 1920s, Jewish businessman Max Emden made a fortune with department stores such as KaDeWe or Oberpollinger and was one of Hamburg’s most important patrons. On Lake Maggiore he led a glamorous life with speedy boats and beautiful women, but the long arm of the Nazis reached him there too – Emden lost everything. To this day, his heirs are fighting in vain for adequate compensation.
After a traumatic encounter, a young, gay Egyptian joins the LGBT rights movement. When his safety is jeopardized, he must choose whether to stay in the country he loves or seek asylum elsewhere as a refugee. HALF A LIFE is a timely story of activism and hope, set in the increasingly dangerous, oppressive, and unstable social climate of Egypt today.
Film Festivals & Screenings
*2017 Docfest Sheffield
*2017 International Animation Film Festival Annecy
& Jascha Hannover
52 & 90 min.
Germany / Netherlands
English / German
He was one of Hollywood’s greatest writers and directors. Original footage of Wilder, conversations with his colleagues, archive and new film material document an eventful century in history and present a portrait of a man who was anything but boring.
Born Samuel Wilder in Galicia, Billy Wilder fled from Berlin as a young reporter via Paris and New York when the Nazis rose to power. He lived in many places; but it is in Hollywood that he ultimately settled. “NEVER BE BORING: BILLY WILDER” offers the viewer an intimate portrait of the star director and invites to take a glimpse at the machinery of the dream factory and Billy Wilder’s films, at their inner workings and mechanisms.
The Film offers insight into the life and mindset of a cinematic genius. Billy Wilder speaks for himself in countless original recordings and in exclusive newly filmed interviews his companions and contemporaries such as director Volker Schlöndorff, actor Mario Adorf, Swiss actress Marthe Keller and Paul Diamond, himself a script writer, son of Wilder’s most important writing partner, I.A.L. Diamond, reminisce about Wilder.
Via trailers and film extracts from his masterpieces the film documents and analyses Wilder’s cinematographic works; his tremendous standing in the industry is attested by conversations with his companions. His quotes, sometimes full of sarcasm, sometimes full of endearing humour, reveal much about the life of the famous writer and director. NEVER BE BORING: BILLY WILDER The film takes us to the places where these memories were formed.
Dutch / English
& Dennis Alink Films
The life story of Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer, who passed away in 2014, as told by the director himself. The documentary was made at the time when Sluizer was finally finishing his film Dark Blood. While the director is struggling with his health and his movie, he looks back on his life and talks about his love of cinema, his sources of inspiration and his at times bizarre experiences with people like Klaus Kinski, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Werner Herzog, Michelangelo Antonioni and John F. Kennedy. With a great mix of interviews and footage of his films.
The last offspring of a powerful German family: Arndt von Bohlen und Halbach – the last Krupp.
Unwilling to fulfill the expectations of both his family and their company, this homosexual industrialist’s son waived his inheritance of around 3,5 billion D-Mark. With an annual settlement of two million D-Mark Arndt withdrew into another world. He remained a lonely man his whole life. His lifestyle became legendary in the 1960s and 70s, degenerated into a ridiculed outsider. Neither a documentary nor a feature film and set in the late 70s.
Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival
2016 Nomination for the European Film Academy Docunentary Competition
2016 Academy Award ® nomination – Best Documentary Short Subject
When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime he agonizes over his decision — should he call the police? Last Day of Freedom is a richly animated personal narrative that tells the story of Bill’s decision to stand by his brother, a Veteran returning from war, as he faces criminal charges, racism, and ultimately the death penalty. The film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day- racial bias, veteran’s rights, mental health care and criminal justice.
Created from over 32,000 hand-drawn images, the film has garnered international film attention and won numerous awards since its premiere at Full Frame Film Festival in April 2015 where it won Best Short Documentary. Last Day of Freedom recently won the IDA Award for Best Short Documentary.
According to Protocol shows the responsible but also emotional work of the dispatchers of the emergency services 112. They are expected to adjust their way of assistance to the new protocol that took effect recently. For the optimization of health care the dispatchers have to follow a tight schedule of questionnaires. The one dispatcher is coping better to this commercial change in work than the other.
Director Anne-Marieke Graafmans shows us the dilemma employees in the care increasingly have to face: realize the best possible care for the clients versus the commercialization in health care.
2014 / 2015
55 & 76 min.
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP is the 40-year love story between Filipino-American Richard Adams and Australian Tony Sullivan, who, in 1975, became one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married. After applying for a green card for Tony based on their marriage, the couple received a denial letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service stating, “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” Outraged at the tone, tenor and politics of this letter and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple sued the U.S. government, filing the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history.
58 & 90 min.
Told in amazing archival footage only, showing the turbulent life of the jewish Sam Waagenaar, a bon-vivant, who many times changed the course of his life in the 20th century.
Successfully moving from being a publicity manager for MGM in the thirties, actor in Hollywood, to operetta singer in France and war correspondent, finally ending up as a photographer travelling the world after the war. The film is based on Waagenaar’s unpublished autobiography. With a voice-over he reflects on his life, and on a tendency towards optimism that was severely tested more than once.
A life filled with surprising turns by a bon-vivant who loved travelling and who – apparently without planning in advance – successfully rolled from one job to another. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was publicity manager for MGM, operetta singer in France and correspondent and actor in Hollywood. As war correspondent, he was present at the liberation of Paris and Auschwitz. From those years on, he developed in photography and from 1946 he travelled the whole world as a journalist/photographer.
& Elena Goatelli
59 & 80' min.
Spain / Italy
A special look into a week-long, nerve-wracking competition in which about 130 young people from all over the world, take part and of which one is to be crowned best conductor.
We see the preparations of five finalists, their love of music and the complex art of conducting. The beady-eyed jury follows every participant’s gesture and movement, who panics about blackouts, or a poorly rehearsed piece of music. Interviews are intercut with footage of the competition. The calm, soothing sounds of the classical compositions contrast more and more starkly with the rising tensions in the run-up to the final.
51' & 58' & 6 x 9' min.
Six remarkable stories of survival from eyewitnesses of Nazi atrocities during World War 2, brought to life for a young audience through animation and a series of follow on interviews to camera.
Ruth, Martin, Trude, Heinz, Arek and Suzanne. All well spoken elderly survivors who recount their childhood experiences of Nazi atrocities; their escape from occupied mainland Europe to Britain; adapting to life in the UK; and the impact on their lives subsequently.
We also get a chance to meet the real-life survivors today in short, on-camera interviews, which reflect on the effect these experiences have had on their adult lives. They discuss why it is important to keep alive the memory of those who were murdered by the Nazis and the need for Holocaust education, and they appeal for humanity to stay vigilant so that the world may never see these horrific events repeated.
The program works as a one hour program, as well as individual shorts, combined (or not) with the live action interviews.
On June 28th 1969 the New York Police Department conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. To the surprise of the policemen, the partying bar patrons decided to defend themselves and fought back.
Today, this incident is celebrated in a series of colourful and flamboyant parties in cities all over the world. Everywhere, people are remembering the pioneers of the gay and lesbian movement 45 years ago. Five Days in New York takes the viewers back to the origins of the gay pride movement in New York City.
During the 1960s ID controls at known gay and lesbian bars were conducted all the time, and names were often released to shame the patrons. But the 28th of June 1969 changed the social awareness of the public. From that day on, gays were no longer victims and started to fight back. The Stonewall riots lasted for five days and nights. Five days in New York, that changed the life of gays and lesbians across the world.
In Five Days in New York Stonewall veterans, comrades from the earliest days, as well as activists and allies of the LGBT community talk about their personal experiences. They describe the social climate of the late 1960s, both in New York and the rest of the US, and they proudly talk about how far the equal rights movement of the LGBT community has come today. At the same time, Five Days in New York takes a closer look at what goes on behind the scenes of the New York Pride March, which commemorates the Stonewall riots and is one of the cities greatest parties as well as one of the largest political events in New York City.
Does God Love Women? portrays Hilligje Kok, a deeply religious but free spirited woman in Staphorst, a village located in the Dutch “Bible Belt”.
With passion and humor, Hilligje seeks to improve the position of women within her church as well as in the orthodox Christian political party SGP.
But a visit by Hilligje’s gay son Willem brings her off balance. Why did she not show up at his wedding? Hilligje’s well-intended struggle for equality is now putting at risk her friendships, family relationships as well as her position within the congregation.
Margaret Rutherford’s true life story is in fact much more eccentric than the most famous fictional role she ever played: Miss Jane Marple – Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth. Rutherford’s version was the very first appearance of Miss Marple on the big screen and it was far removed though from the petite, upper middle-class lady in the detective novels. Rutherford’s Marple was the personification of an English spinster, a bumbling hobby snooper, a know-it-all with an imposing jaunty stature.
Margaret Rutherford made her grand stage debut at 33. But it was in the role of Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde’s camp social commentary “The Importance Of Being Earnest“ that Rutherford was taken seriously by the critics. Her first cinema success was in “Blithe Spirit“ in 1945, where she plays Madame Arcati, an eccentric medium. In 1963 she won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role in “The V.I.P.s” – one of the best ever performances by Margaret Rutherford. In more than 40 films and over 100 stage plays, Margaret Rutherford’s magic lay in her incredible talent for perfect comic timing together with her completely idiosyncratic and unique looks. Today the Miss Marple films are constantly repeated on television worldwide seems to make clear that there is still a huge interest in this eccentric character actress.
Margaret Rutherford’s private life and family history is even more colourful, tragic and stranger than any filmwriter could possibly imagine. It is almost identical to an Agatha Christie crime novel with a murder, suicide, madness, changes of identity, dark hidden secrets and fraud.
The films follows clues and unearth new evidence in not only London but in Chalfont St. Peter, Denham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire – sleepy villages where there is plenty to hide. Interview partners are Andy Merriman, biographer, 95 year old Gwen Robyns, ghost-writer of Margaret’s autobiography (1972), Tony Benn, her cousin and left-wing Labour politician, actress and comedian June Whitfield, painter Michael Noakes, famous for his royal portraits and character actress and best friend, Damaris Hayman.
The Brandon Teena Story is a documentary about hatred and homophobia in the heartland of America. The film focuses on the last few weeks of Brandon Teena’s life in a small town in Nebraska. When 20 year old Brandon arrived in rural Fall City, Nebraska in late 1993, his handsome looks and boyish charm won him several friends and a pretty young girlfriend.
On Christmas Eve Brandon was brutally raped and beaten by two of his friends who became enraged when they found out that Brandon was in fact a woman passing as a guy. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the same men murdered Brandon along with two of his friends, Lisa Lambert and Philip Devine. All were shot twice at a close range and Brandon was stabbed several times as well.
The far-reaching effects of ingrained homophobia and misguided loyalty under a veneer of revealing the truth, and how this led to Brandon’s destruction are unravelled in this film.
Gay / Human Interest
Growing up as a small town boy who feels like a girl, Graham is an outsider who can see only one solution – to become “Ashleigh”. Ashleigh’s greatest desire is to be an attractive woman “with beautiful big breasts that a man would love.” She insists that she’s both heterosexual and a virgin.
But just as Ashleigh starts to really change her appearance, she also reveals her inner conflict and confusion about what she’s actually doing. Ashleigh dreads being identified as transgender and divulges that her ultimate drive is simply to become “normal”.
Cultural / Human Interest
54 & 90 min.
When reading John Irving, you get the feeling that you are sitting at a table and one of the characters is handing you a glass of wine. Irving is one of the world’s most read writers: More than 10-million copies of his 12 novels – including his breakthrough “The World According To Garp” and the 1980 “Ciderhouse Rules” – have been sold in 30 languages.
In 2012 Irving celebrated his 70th birthday and his new book “In One Person” was published. The film visualizes the elation in Irving’s novels (including his last one), a factor which makes him a literary figure of global format: a reality available for everyone.
James Dean – alias Jim Stark – crouching on the roadside, giggling childishly into himself. James Dean – alias Cal – lying in a corn field watching the fruit grow. James Dean – alias James Dean – the collar of his coat turned up in New York: Images which have collaborated on building a myth – the image of eternal and misunderstood youth. Unlike Marlon Brando, the proletarian rebel with identifiable goals, James Dean was the timeless and androgynous youthful rebel. His death on the Interstate 46 leads us back to 1950s America, a time when youth was re-interpreted all anew.
The USA was looking for its profile: While the McCarthy-hysteria was reactivating the tough patriar-chal America, the internal social fabric was determining its course for “Big Mama“. All of this followed a general “psychologicalisation” of all spheres of life: Authenticity, truth and rebellion turned into values attributed to youth and also revolutionised the Hollywood studios. James Dean played himself – but like no one else before he also produced himself. It was through this that he was turned into an icon of a media created youth culture, the shadow of which is still hanging over us today.
Excerpts of James Dean’s three films, behind the scenes footage, archive from 1950s America and original photos will merge with the newly shot material tracking the phenomenon James Dean in present day New York, Fairmount and California.
History / Human Interest
In World War II more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes and relocate to military camps dotted across the western United States. Time of Fear tells the story of the 16,000 men, women and children who were sent to two camps in southeast Arkansas, one of the poorest and most racially segregated places in America. It is also explores the reactions of the native Arkansans who watched in bewilderment as their tiny towns were overwhelmed by this huge influx of outsiders.
Using rare home movies of the camp and interviews with Japanese Americans and Arkansans who lived these events, Time of Fear is a tale of suspicion and fear, of resilience, and of the deep scars left by America’s long and unfinished struggle with race. Today, in the aftermath of 9/11, Time of Fear resonates with chilling power.
Funding for the film was provided by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, funded the Real Estate Transfer Tax; and by the Arkansas Humanities Council Department of Arkansas Heritage.
A boy posts a message on the Internet seeking a suicide partner. A girl reads it and flies to meet him one week later. Together they jump off a 600-meter cliff. They found each other on an Internet newsgroup called alt.suicide.holiday, or ASH.
nternet newsgroups are virtual discussion forums amongst people with common interests. The subject of this one is suicide. You come across thousands of letters. The unknown leave behind their open hearted life stories for us to read. Who are these people and why are they seeking each other on the Internet? What lives lay hidden behind the blue light of the computers.
In ASH worlwide suicide we meet four writers of this newsgroup.
Portrait / Cultural
Once a maverick who was nearly run out of the American Institute of Architects, John Portman is now recognized as one of the most innovative and imitated architects ever.
Over 45 years, Portman’s iconic urban statements and eye- popping interiors have risen in 60 cities on four continents to redefine cityscapes in America, and skylines in China and the rest of Asia. The film captures Portman’s approach in an intimate portrait that, by turn, assesses and appreciates Portman’s work.
Dramatic time-lapse footage shows off Portman’s buildings at their best— often in moving sunlight that washes over his facades and spaces.
A portrait of Tiny Davis, the woman billed as “The Female Louis Armstrong”, and her partner for over forty years, on and off the bandstand, Ruby Lucas. Produced in association with Channel Four, UK.
Silver Plaque Award, Chicago Film Festival; Finalist, American Film and Video Festival. Audience Award, Berlin International Film Festival and Festival International de Films de Femmes, Creteil
Gay /Human Interest/Cultural
59 & 75 min.
One hot August afternoon in 1972 John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan bank. An unexpectedly rapid police response prompted Wojtowicz to take eight hostages. Once Wojtowicz revealed that he had committed the robbery to finance the sex change operation of his lover, there was no turning back. A 10 minute robbery degenerated into a 14 hour stand off. Cops, crowds and cameras – the robbery was a spectacle that eventually served as the basis for Sidney Lumet’s 1975 film DOG DAY AFTERNOON.
Of all the accounts as to what took place during those 14 hours, Wojtowicz’s testimonial is the only one missing. After serving time in prison, Wojtowicz was released, taking up residence several blocks from the bank, leading his life in the illuminated shadow of cinematic memories that were not his own.
‘Based on a true story’ is a remarkable journey back in time reconstructing this day in August 1972. Whereas John Wojtowicz wants to star in his own memories, his control over the story slips away when other accounts come to light. With stunning original news footage, clips of the film Dog Day Afternoon, and recollections of both the hostages, the Police, the FBI and John Wojtowicz, this becomes a story of many faces.
The Great Kate peeps behind the scenes of the golden era of Hollywood to discover exactly how and why Katherine Hepburn became one of the most famous actresses in the glamorous world of cinema.
She was an intellectual outsider with a headstrong personality who embodied a completely new charismatic female on screen. Creating an image is nothing new in Hollywood, but she managed to control her own by skilfully playing with the studio system.
Katharine Hepburn managed an unbelievable 60-year career, keeping an outstanding open mind, staying provocative and timeless – something that still fascinates us even today.
An ARTE/AVRO co-production
Tupperware: it’s a plastic product, a company, a marketing phenomenon, an enduring icon. A Tupperware party takes place somewhere in the world every 2.5 seconds. Where did it all begin?
Tupperware! tells the remarkable story of Earl Silas Tupper, an ambitious but reclusive small-town inventor, and Brownie Wise, the self-taught saleswoman who built him an empire out of bowls that burped. Brownie was an intuitive marketing genius who trained a small army of Tupperware Ladies to put on Tupperware parties in living rooms across America in the 1950s. She rewarded her sales force with minks and modern appliances at extravagant annual jubilees which the company filmed. Her saleswomen earned thousands, even millions, selling Tupperware. And the experience changed their lives.
The film includes rare footage collected from basements, attics, and back rooms: color home movies taken by Tupperware Ladies and Jubilee footage shot by Tupperware Home Parties, as well as ads and television excerpts from the period. The footage is interwoven with fabulous and funny stories told by Tupperware Ladies who witnessed the company’s early years.
Major Funding Provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Experience and WGBH, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Morgan Stanley,Lemelson Center of the Smithsonian Institution.
Selected for Montreal 2003, Valladolid 2003, IDFA 2003 and many others!
Human Interest / Arts
South African poet and singer Gert Vlok Nel lives in Beaufort West, a village in Big Karoo, an empty stretch of land between Cape Town and Johannesburg.The village forms the inspiration for Gert Vlok Nel’s work.
Beaufort West has obtained an almost mythical status: critics refer to it as the “real” South Africa, far away from the big Westernized cities.
Accompanied by his poems and songs we travel through the village and meet Gert, his father, Beaufort West and its inhabitants.
Back in December 1953, the 27 years old Hugh Hefner published the first Playboy Magazine in Chicago, and the American system of values – God, family and work – got muddled up forever. There was no match for Playboy or for its founder. At the head of the company was a man whose lifestyle stimulated men’s fantasies just as much as the magazine itself. Hugh Hefner, hedonist, icon of virile machismo and the most famous playboy in the world. Initiator of the sexual revolution, a fighter for civil rights and supporter of the arts, a liberal saint – or, after all, just an amoral materialist, chauvinist and pornographer? Fact is, no other magazine has had such an impact on American and Americanised culture as the glossy Playboy from Chicago.
Today, Playboy is one the five best known brands in the world alongside Coca Cola and McDonald’s. According to the Far Eastern Economic Review Playboy is even the most popular brand in the People’s Republic of China – a country in which the its most famous product, Playboy Magazine, is categorised as pornography, i.e. illegal. But the Chinese know absolutely what Playboy represents: sex, beautiful women – and sophistication. And in India too, the sexual revolution, thanks to Playboy, is just a step away.
LET’S PLAY, BOY tells the story of the cultural and economical phenomenon called Playboy – in times in which the species “playboy” seems to be dying out: An acute evaluation of the broad impact both the Playboy magazine and the brand have had over the past 50 years.
In 1969, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village decided to fight back, transforming a routine police raid into three nights of rioting which marked the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. Before Stonewall examines the historical background to this sudden burst of political energy – from the social experimentation of the Roaring Twenties, to the discovery of the true size of this hidden society during World War II, to the scape-goating of homosexuals during the McCarthy era, to the development of the early homophile rights movement – providing an informative and engaging portrait of the history of homosexual experience in America.
Using filmed recollections and a wealth of archival material (including excerpts from silent-films newsreels and Hollywood musicals), Before Stonewall traces the social, political and cultural development of the gay and lesbian community. As such, the film is not a narrow history of gay civil rights, but the hidden story of a vital American subculture.
Before Stonewall features provocative and humorous interviews with poets Allen Ginsberg and Audre Lorde, historian/playwright Martin Duberman, Native American activist Smilie Hillaire, gay activist Barbara Gittings, Reverend Grant Gallup, novelist Ann Bannon, as well as many other authors psychologists ministers, gay activists, and government officials, who recount the vice squads, witch hunts, censorship and secrecy that have been such a large part of being homosexual.
The film also celebrates the strength of character and courage of those who led their lives with dignity despite widespread social discrimination,fear and prejudice. Whether one is gay or straight or in-between, audiences of all types are sure to find Before Stonewall a remarkable historical record of social change in America.
Narrated by Laura Linney
In the early days of silent film, Mary Pickford soared to global fame, becoming the world’s first international superstar. An actress of extraordinary talent, she was also a sophisticated businesswoman who helped shape a culture of celebrity that defines America today.
She began her career in 1900 when she was just six years old. By 1914 she was the most popular woman in the world. Her films and her private life, especially her “romance of the century” with Hollywood heartthrob, Douglas Fairbanks, thrilled fans around the world. Pickford was also immensely successful in the business side of her career.
Together with Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and director D.W. Griffith, she founded United Artists to give the partners complete artistic and commercial control of their films. Audiences eagerly awaited new UA films and in the 1920s — the glory days of silent film — their movies raised production standards for all of Hollywood.
But when talking pictures made their appearance, Pickford’s golden touch faltered. Her world began to collapse around her and she became the first to pay the price of extravagant fame.
Using home movies, archive footage, photographs, atmospheric shooting and, of course, her own films, ‘Mary Pickford’ builds a poignant, complex portrait of the most powerful and adored woman in the history of movies, “America’s Sweetheart.”
Major funding provided by: the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Additional funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Major funding for American Experience provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. National corporate funding provided by The Scotts Company and Liberty Mutual. Additional funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.