Magazine article Screen International

Karl Baumgartner, Obituary

Magazine article Screen International

Karl Baumgartner, Obituary

Article excerpt

International co-production and co-production markets around the globe will not be the same now following the news that the internationally respected German producer-distributor Karl Baumgartner has died at the age of 65.

Known affectionately by friends and colleagues alike as ¨Baumi¨, Baumgartner hailed from the South Tyrol, but was ¨ at home¨ in different countries and cultures, working with film-makers on projects located in some of the seemingly most inaccessible or logistically nightmarish parts of the planet.

Hearing him recount the making of Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov's Luna Papa at one of the countless co-production panels with his tales of the shooting being stopped by floods washing the set away, the outbreak of civil war and being evacuated by the Red Cross floods, one often wondered whether he purposely looked for such challenges.

Not to speak of the challenge of putting such delicate and time-consuming co-production structures together involving tried-and-tested production partners, public funders and broadcasters from across Europe and beyond.

Unwavering curiosity

Once when asked why he put himself through such travails for these co-productions, he spoke of his unwavering curiosity for other countries and cultures and interest in discovering young, new talents at home in Germany as well as throughout Eastern Europe - a particular focus - and further afield.

And so it was that ¨Baumi¨ was a regular and popular guest at the co-production markets and gatherings which have sprung up over the past 20 years as a way for producers to find potential partners for their film projects. In fact, many events considered it a ¨seal of approval¨ if he could accept their invitation to attend - and, of course, recall further anecdotes about past co-productions for the obligatory panel as well as giving his view of the current state of independent production..

It was always said that the fact that Pandora's base was originally in Frankfurt probably made it easier to jet around the world with the centre of Lufthansa's flight network up the road.

At the same time, ¨Baumi¨ was no jet-setter even if he spent a good part of his time travelling from one production to the next - with the inevitable connections on to smaller flights to the often back and beyond settings of his films .

Inspiration for ¨Baumi's babies¨

Rather, he was an inspiration for a whole generation of younger producers in Germany who benefitted from his generosity of spirit and curiosity about new untold stories and undiscovered talents whether they were directors, screenwriters, actors or up-and-coming producers.

Starting with Pandora, producer colleagues such as Claudia Steffen, Christoph Friedel, and Raimund Goebel - and Ernst Szebedits at another offshoot he founded, Pegasos Film - had been able to benefit over the years from his fount of knowledge and experience - and this was extended to Michael Weber and his team when ¨Baumi¨ and Brundig became partners in the sales agent The Match Factory which Weber has built up into one of the leading players in the international independent sales and production scene.

But as the author observed at numerous editions of such gatherings as Connecting Cottbus and Sofia Meetings, Baumgartner had spawned a wave of so-called ¨Baumi's babies¨ who also had the curiosity about other cultures and countries and the desire to take risks: Razor Film, Rohfilm, Flying Moon, Detailfilm, Ostlicht, Unafilm, Riva Film, One Two Films, and Neue Mediopolis are just some of the names that come to mind of German production companies who were doubtless inspired and encouraged in no small part by ¨Baumi¨'s example. …

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