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Berlinale Blog: Jürgen goes to the market

Jürgen R. Weber is still trying to sell his "Über movie" Open Wound at the European Film Market, where random encounters are often better than planned ones. But he finds it's hard to penetrate the hot cloudy air of the film business.

Image for Berlinale Blog: Jürgen goes to the market
Photo ©Joerg Frank

Jürgen has many problems with this world. “Everyone tries to pretend to be a good person. You should just be honest about the bad things you do,” he says with some urgency to an Albanian film director who has, fatefully, sat down near us with her coffee. “Me, I am an asshole, and I tell people this from the beginning. It relaxes them.”

He pauses. The Albanian woman laughs. “Are you really an asshole?” I ask him. He thinks. “I am an asshole pretending to be a good person pretending to be an asshole.” The Albanian woman laughs again.

Then there’s environmentalism – another problem that Jürgen decides this is a good time to bring up. “The only solution to the environment is aristocracy – only the elites should fly in planes – but no one wants that, because environmentalists tend to be lefties, so… ” He shrugs.

And then there’s the film business, which according to Jürgen, is 90 percent hot, cloudy air in which everyone talks about money, but in a way that never quite suggests commitment. He looks around at the mass of producers, agents, and distributors teeming through the Martin-Gropius-Bau. “Look at them. It can be very frustrating. Yesterday I wanted to start a physical confrontation with somebody, but they did not want it.”

Today he and Tau Tau have a conversation about Open Wound with a programme director from the Sundance festival in the American Independents lounge. She is very wary. She doesn’t take her coat off and sits on the edge of her square white pouffe throughout the meeting. Sundance woman asks “What kind of film is it?” in a way that strongly suggests she does not want to know exactly what kind of film it is, and Jürgen wisely opts not to show her the trailer. Then the woman explains the submission process for Sundance, which she says get around 4000 feature film submissions for the 100 spots on the programme. She looks a little nervous, as if Jürgen may launch into a full-blown pitch, and maintains the bearing of someone who spends a significant amount of time soothing first-time filmmakers.

When Sundance woman has gone, Jürgen consoles himself by showing his trailer to a random Polish agent who works in London. Her friendly smile freezes a little when she gets to the finger torture with a fold-up ruler, but she gets to the end. “It’s not really my style,” she says. “But I think people in the UK would like it.”

This cheers Jürgen up. In the meantime, he has located some free Haribo, which he offers around, before inviting the Polish agent to his party. Her smile fixes in a noncommittal way.