“The interest in arthouse and artistically demanding cinema seems to grow”
Industry Report: Documentary
Karsten Krause • Producer, Fünferfilm
The 2022 Emerging Producer from Germany addresses the current situation of the documentary film industry in Europe and talks about his projects
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Karsten Krause: Documentary film, or rather film in general, can of course be an instrument for social and political change. But that is not the main reason why we produce film. We are interested in films that, in their critical approach, do not merely strive for clarification of content, but discover artistic forms that question fixed patterns and explore the possibilities that film offers, both in terms of content but also aesthetically. Because film, through its artistic approach, finds new ways to ask important questions.
The pandemic had an impact on the entire sector. How did it influence your work as a producer? Have the projects that you work on changed?
The change that cinema is going through today was indeed intensified by the pandemic. And with it, all the uncertainties about the future and the question of how the production of films can continue. Of course, the pandemic had an extreme influence on individual projects, I think that will have been the case for everyone involved in film. I can only speak for Germany, but I think all parties involved, such as film funding institutions, distributors, TV stations and film productions, etc., have reacted quite well to the pandemic and supported each other quite well. In any case, various ways were found to absorb additional costs caused by the pandemic relatively quickly.
What do you think is the future of the distribution of documentary films?
Although the streaming platforms are getting bigger and bigger and everyone is talking about the disappearance of cinema, we still believe in cinema distribution, because the films we work on are already a niche. The audience we have today is fond of art- and culture and they will remain interested to see such films within the cinema context. But: with the increasing distribution of VOD, the interest in arthouse and artistically demanding film seems to grow and reach cinephile audience worldwide. So certainly there is an audience for those films and this development is also a chance. But we really fight for the existence of cinema, because it really is a different and important experience.
What projects do you have underway?
We have many projects in various stages of completion. Nearing completion are Human Flowers of Flesh, Helena Wittmann’s second feature-length film, and André Sieger’s documentary La Empresa. While we got Human Flowers of Flesh through the pandemic relatively well, La Empresa had a very hard time. But we are now on a very promising path. It’s going to be a really great film. Then we have two documentaries: Reproduktion (Katharina Pethke) and Strandzha (Pepa Hristova), which are almost in the process of being shot, although here, too, much has been delayed due to the pandemic. Then we are developing two debut feature films – The Fleck by Willy Hans, which we hopefully shoot this summer (fingers crossed) and Petty Thieves by Mate Ugrin.
EMERGING PRODUCERS is a leading promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the EMERGING PRODUCERS 2023 edition is 31 March 2022.
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