The world as a global department store: five astounding stories from different corners of the globe, stories of winners and losers, of trading and hoping, of success and promise – and an illuminating expedition into the heart of eBay headquarters...

"Traders’ Dreams" interweaves personal eBay stories with a global finance thriller in a surprising and entertaining fashion. It's about the philosophy behind the "eBay system" and how eBay effects the future of the trading business globally. How close are we to realizing the phenomenal dream of a system in which everyone can win?

More than 200 million people use eBay, the largest Internet auction house worldwide. Each day, hundreds more join those ranks, ready to change their lives and find happiness in the world of virtual commerce. Filmmakers Marcus Vetter and Stefan Tolz spent more than a year observing people in their attempts to fulfill their eBay dreams: in Borna in Saxony, Germany, on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, in a village in the Mexican desert – the idea of a direct marketplace where anyone can buy and sell at anytime is popular throughout the world. In California, we meet "Uncle Griff," the legendary host of the eBay Radio Show and author of the eBay Bible, who embodies the PR strategy of the concern like nobody else. The camera follows Griff during eBay Live, the annual world congress of the "community" and thus provides an informative look behind the scenes. In Hangzhou on the east coast of China, a successful businessman named Jack Ma and his company Alibaba have already eclipsed the Chinese division of eBay – and now he wants to compete with the Americans on the world market.

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"Traders' Dreams" tells the story of people from different countries who change their lives in order to become rich and happy through the worldwide fever for Internet auctions. By doing so, they are responding to the promises of an American company that turns local flea markets into global business and which sells it's expansion strategy as the economic democratization of the world: The power of all of us. In Germany, Scotland and Mexico – with detours to corporate headquarters in China and the USA – Filmmakers Marcus Vetter and Stefan Tolz observe individuals in their attempts to realize their own eBay dreams. Their experiences, their defeats and their successes form the basis of a surprising and entertaining journey of discovery into the seemingly boundless universe of worldwide Internet commerce. Many New Economy ideas have vanished as quickly as the dotcom companies that spawned them. eBay, on the other hand, has not only survived but has grown steadily to become a billion-dollar corporation and the world's biggest Internet auction house.

Today, more than 200 million people use the company's colorful portal as a trading platform. The fascination eBay inspires spans every culture. And though some of us only know it as a flea market or collector's forum, for many it long ago became a way of life. Through perfect marketing, eBay has already persuaded half a million people worldwide to create an existence for themselves as so-called Powersellers. Each day, hundreds of small business enterprises join those ranks, hoping to achieve happiness with eBay. They do so at their own risk; only eBay itself is guaranteed profits through its insertion fees.

What is behind global commerce on the Internet? What is dream and what is reality? What are the realistic chances and what is mere marketing? Marcus Vetter and Stefan Tolz have created a film that is as illuminating as it is entertaining, a film about a current phenomena that spans our globe, a phenomena in which appearances are constantly colliding with reality.

A production of Filmquadrat

Year of production 2007
Lenght 83 Minuten
Format 35mm, Digibeta
A production of Filmquadrat
In Co-production NDR, ZDF, ARTE
Director Stefan Tolz
Co-Director Marcus Vetter
Director of photography Sylvio Claußner
Thomas Riedelsheimer
Editing Annette Muff
Stefan Tolz
Saskia Metten
Supported by FFA, BKM, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gerd Ruge Stipendium, Documentary Campus Mastershool

In ci-production with NDR, ZDF and ARTE

Sound Thomas Schwarz
Marcus Vetter
Sound Mix Tom Dokoupil
Music Paul Shigihara
Peter Latzel
Second camera

Stefan Tolz
Nils Keber
Stefan Thissen
Marcus Vetter

Production team Sebastian Fünder
Nina Ludewig
Michele Owen
Production coordinator Carina Mergens
Distributor Piffi Medien

Stefan Tolz

We were attracted to the challenge of finding a way to tell a story about this popular topic and turn it into a gripping film. We didn't want "Traders’ Dreams" to be a film for computer freaks. We set out to describe human experiences that touch you emotionally. Our aim was to create a parable about globalization and the colorful world of eBay, which has been exported from America into more than 30 different countries. We wanted to see what was behind the promise eBay is spreading, behind the hopes and the dream of wealth and happiness. We wanted to investigate this around the globe by taking this "toy" called eBay which is "played with" all over the world and which may stand for completely different things in different countries.

Marcus Vetter

Marcus Vetter For me, the euphoria surrounding eBay is a phenomenon typical of our times. A lot of people suddenly believe in the possibility of fulfilling their dream of independence through eBay. In Germany, the idea of using eBay to start a successful new business is so widespread that employment offices have even offered programs to help get these forms of self-employment off the ground. But is it really that simple? What consequences does it have? With the different stories in our film, we were attempting to put this complex subject together like a puzzle.

For example, our Mexico story is about how the potters of Mata Ortiz produce these beautiful handmade vases. But what is a fair price? In the end, trading in these vases is much more lucrative than the laborious production, i.e. than the artistic process. Should the artisans now become traders themselves? What are the consequences when actually making things is no longer lucrative and everyone is only interested in doing business? The film poses these questions, without pretending to have the ultimate answers. Instead, we want to inspire people to go on thinking about it and asking questions.

"Vetter and Tolz give us intimate impressions from the homes of the dreamers who auction, and take an investigative look into the not at all dreamy business conduct of e-auction moguls. The high entertainment value of 'Traders' Dreams' clearly comes from the careful choice and sensitive observation of the people it portrays – including some whimsically comical situations."

"In their search for the nation- and culture-transcending phenomena eBay, documentary filmmakers Marcus Vetter und Stefan Tolz took off on a trip around the world. Everywhere they went, they encountered people looking to fulfill their dreams, large and small, through eBay – with varying degrees of success... 'Traders' Dreams' exposes the dream of a system without losers as a pretty chimera. More than anything, eBay's marketing power is the reason many choose to continue believing in prosperity as a self-made entrepreneur. But – as the film's examples show – even with eBay, success cannot be planned. (...) Vetter and Tolz create tension by cleverly juxtaposing scenes showing an eBay community driven by euphoria and the desire for action with the everyday experiences of other eBay users. On the one hand, we find intoxication and a seemingly untainted bliss, and here in reality a difficult struggle surrounding every action and every sale. Two worlds, and both of them are eBay."