Christian Bauer • Producer / Director
Blending tradition with innovation
After graduating in German and English Literature, American Affairs and History, German-born Christian Bauer worked as a professional film critic before starting to make films as a director and producer from 1980 on. Since then, he has directed more than 60 documentaries and produced many more. Initially, he established the production company Kick Film with partner Joerg Bundschuh before setting up on his own in 1989 with TAMGRAM Filmproduktion to produce documentaries on history, art, science, literature, and current affairs.
As Bauer sees it, TANGRAM has focused on two particular strands in its documentary output: "firstly, there are documentaries with the heart of a documentary filmmaker and targeted at the festival circuit - what I would call author documentaries; and then we have the glossy productions on historical, scientific or artistic subjects which use computer animation and re-enactments aiming at a mass audience. It is an interesting tightrope walk between these two approaches, but there can be cross-fertilization between the areas. Our profile at TANGRAM is more creative than doing run of the mill factual programming," Bauer stresses. "The development side is our focus and I like to see myself involved in projects, especially the international ones, from the very beginning."
He is pleased that documentaries are becoming more popular on television and in the cinema. However raising the finance for these projects doesn't get any easier as time goes by. He describes his experience: "Sometimes, I would wish for there to be more courage from German television in taking a chance on new developments. There really is a great potential here for us to develop new formats ourselves." As it is, TANGRAM has been something of a pioneer in documentary production for television since it was behind the first docu-soap to appear on ARTE and German television back in 1999.
While producing other filmmakers, Bauer has nevertheless kept his hand in as a director over the years. His 2001 feature documentary Missing Allen - The Man Who Became A Camera was named Best Documentary at festivals in Montreal and Venice and then nominated for the European Documentary Film Award in 2003. The film told of Bauer's search for his missing friend, the Chicago DoP Allen Ross, who mysteriously disappeared in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after they had finished their seventh film together. The quest for the truth behind Allen's sudden disappearance took the German filmmaker into the dark world of religious fringe groups and UFO believers. At the end of the film, Bauer discovers that his friend was murdered, but the question is: by whom?
Missing Allen was followed by The Ritchie Boys about a group of young men who fled Nazi Germany and returned to Europe in US army uniforms to help the Allied war effort against Hitler's Third Reich. This highly-acclaimed film was the opening film at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto in 2004 and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005.
Bauer has now returned to the story of his friend Allen Ross and is preparing a new feature documentary tentatively entitled Finding Allen. "I have come to realize that finding Allen was not enough. Now I have to find his killer," explains Bauer. "I am wearing two hats on these films, "admits Bauer. "As a producer, I speak about it as a project. But as an individual and filmmaker, it hasn't been a pleasant story to probe into - it's a real cesspool. But it's something that I have to bring to a close - after all, my friend has been murdered."
Bauer is also working on The Great Radio War, a project about Radio Free Europe, the CIA-financed radio station in Munich, which played a decisive role during the Cold War as a surrogate broadcaster for the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
In collaboration with German Films Quaterly
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