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Marcus Vetter

Director | Writer | Producer

Marcus began working as a TV editor, producer and director in 1994 at the ARD station SWR after graduating with a degree in Economics followed by another in Media Theory and Practice. His studies included long term stays in Buenos Aires and Madrid as well as practical internships in the media and film business. He was selected for the Discovery Campus Master School in 2004, a 10-month European training program in international co-productions in the nonfiction sector.

His films have received attention at national and international film festivals and won numerous prizes, including three Adolf Grimme Awards – the German equivalent of the Emmy, and one German Film Prize – the German equivalent of the Oscar. Marcus’ work first came to the attention of an international audience with his 1999 film “The Tunnel”, a docu-drama about a legendary escape tunnel in Berlin. The film received the Grimme Prize, a Special Mention at the Prix Europa and was selected for HotDocs. He went on to make numerous films including “The Battle for Brukman”, about rebellious seamstresses in Argentina and The Unbreakables, an award-winning feature doc on industrial glass making in Germany that was released theatrically in 2007. Also in 2007 his film “My Father the Turk” won the Golden Gate Award in San Francisco and was selected for the IDFA, Gothenborg, Barcelona, Ecuador and Ukraine Film Festivals among others. He has gone on to make “After the Silence”, “The Heart of Jenin”, Cinema Jenin”, “The Court” and “The Forecaster”.

His film – THE PROMISE (Killing for Love) – has opened the section “New German Cinema” at the Munich Filmfestival in June 2016 and had its theaterical release in Germany in October 2016.

2018 and 2019 Marcus Vetter is filming when Trump, Bolsonaro and other heads of state engage in bilateral talks with business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, when diplomatic conflicts unfold in the corridors of the Congress Center, or when CEOs of the world´s largest corporations learn about topics such as Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain. Meanwhile, he accompany senior employees of Klaus Schwab while they carry out the WEF’s projects on the ground. For example, in Indonesia, where they are attempting to prevent the deforestation of the rainforest through sustainable palm oil projects, or in Rwanda, where drones are being used to supply hospitals with blood reserves. With his latest film “The Forum – Behind the Scenes of the World Economic Forum”, Vetter succeeds for the first time in the 50-year history of the World Economic Forum to shoot with an independent film team behind the closed doors in Davos and documented how the most powerful people in the world wrestle the future.

Filmography & Awards

Filmography

2021Tunnel 29 – A true German Story (in production)
2019The Forum – Behind the scenes of the World Economic Forum
2016The Promise – The story of Jens Soering
2014The Forecaster – The story of Martin Armstrong
2013The International Criminal Court
2012Cinema Jenin – The story of a dream
2011After the Silence – An Israeli woman meets the family of the suicide bomber who killed her husband.
2009Hunger – the various faces of hunger
2008Heart of Jenin
2007Traders´Dreams – The ebay phenomena
2006The Unbreakables – The reanimation of the glass manufacturer Theresienthal
2006My father the Turk
2004From zero to 42 – Docu Soap about amateur Marathon runners
2003La Florida – The collapse of the banking system in Argentina
2002War Games – The computer game Counterstrike
2001Broadway Bruchsal – Actors dreams in a little German theatre
2000Where money grows – The EM.TV Story
1999The Tunnel – About a legendary escape tunnel in Berlin
1999Megabucks – Daytrader’s stock exchange roulette
1999Life is wonderful – Former pop singers Leismann now touring through construction markets
1998Hardy B. – Psycho gram of a lifer

Awards

2000Axel-Springer-Award: Daytrader`s Stock Exchange Roulette
2000Adolf-Grimme-Award: The Tunnel
2000German Television Award: The Tunnel
2000German Camera Award – Editing: The Tunnel
2000Prix Europa: The Tunnel
2001Jupiter Award: The Tunnel
2001Adolf-Grimme-Award: Where the money grows – The EM.TV-Story
2001Ernst-Schneider-Award: Where the money grows – The EM.TV-Story
2002Adolf-Grimme-Award: Broadway Bruchsal
2002Ludwig Erhard Award: Daytrader`s Stock Exchange Roulette
2002Adolf-Grimme-Special-Award Nordrhein-Westfalen: Broadway Bruchsal
2006Berndt-Media-Award: The Unbreakables
2006Documentary Award Goethe-Institute: The Unbreakables
2006Prix Europa: My father the Turk
2006Golden Gate Award: My father the Turk
2006Best Documentary Film Festival Nuernberg: My father the Turk
2007Vera Filmfestival Audience Award: My father the Turk
2008Dubai IFF Peoples Choice Award: Heart of Jenin
2008Cinema for Peace Award – Most valuable Documentary 2009: Heart of Jenin
2008Movies that Matters Filmfestival – Peoples Choice Award: Heart of Jenin
2009Valladolid International Film Festival – Best Documentary: Heart of Jenin
2009Int. Filmfestival Leipzig DEFA Award – Best Documentary: Heart of Jenin
2010German Film Award: Heart of Jenin
2011Robert-Geisendoerfer-Award: Hunger – The various faces of hunger
2011Grand Prix Camera Obscura – Ryszard Kapuscinski Award: After the Silence
2011Fuenf Seen Festival – Horizonte Film Award: After the Silence
2012Bernhard Wicki Film Award: Cinema Jenin
2012German Camera Award – Editing: Cinema Jenin

“Most gripping stories have one thing in common for me: they tell of creating the “impossible”. They have surprising twists and turns, and they are a plea for having the courage to live your dreams.”

Marcus Vetter

Why good stories need trust?

Everything begins with the theme, the story, the actual starting point of each documentary journey. The themes are supposed to lie on the road, on the side of the road. Perhaps they are remnants of the last story. But that’s what makes them so difficult to identify. Often the right story feels like a crazy idea at the first moment. You think you’ve gone completely mad. When I developed the idea to visit my Turkish father, whom I had only seen once for a brief moment as a child, in Turkey at the age of 36 and to accompany this with the camera, it felt as if the story did not really want to belong to me. It was the starting point of a journey that implied “failure”. I knew nothing about my father. I had nothing in my hand, just an old photograph showing him with my mother. I didn’t know where he lived. I didn’t know if I would like him, how strange he would be to me, or if he would even receive me. I didn’t even know if he was still alive. I only had my mother’s diary, in which she describes how she met my father, then a guest worker, in 1966 in Stuttgart and how he went back to his family in Turkey after a year-long love story and left my mother and me behind. I had just been born and he was already married. When I hesitantly told the ARD editor the idea of this film, I was filled with shame. Was this really a story for ARD? Could one even guess how it would end? But to my astonishment the idea met with great approval. The editor encouraged me, she trusted me, and so a crazy idea turned into a documentary that tells my story.

It is precisely this trust – whether coming from outside or inside – that is the central prerequisite for tracking down every good story. If you don’t yet have the confidence yourself, which is rather the normal case, trust given to you from outside can work wonders. But to give trust also always means to accept a possible failure, or rather to see in failure a creative chance and to be ready to change the path eventually. When I was shooting the film “Where Money Grows”, a film about the stock company EMTV, which was listed on the Neuer Markt and had already increased by 10,000 percent since its launch, the company founders Florian and Homas Haffa suddenly cancelled all interviews for the film. The share price had gone down and the brothers were no longer prepared for interviews. But because the brothers once came from the small hop village of Pfaffenhofen, where hundreds of hop growers invested in the EM TV share, we decided to tell the film from the perspective of the hop growers and the savings bank that made the share big at that time. It probably became the better film, a “sign of the times”, which only became an unusual story because of the cancelled interviews.

For me, most gripping stories have one thing in common: they tell about creating the “impossible”. They have surprising twists and turns and they are a plea for having the courage to live your dreams. Good stories need trust.

“As a documentary filmmaker I go to a foreign land, and the people tell their stories and open their hearts. In return, I give them back a film, but I don’t believe that a film alone has the power to change their circumstances in the long run. Rebuilding Cinema Jenin gives each of those who participate the possibility to write the next chapter in their lives.”

Marcus Vetter about the project Cinema Jenin

Reviews

DEFA Stiftung

Marcus Vetter is a director of the classic school of committed documentary film, Cinéma Vérité, and can be mentioned in the same breath as the greats of the genre. His works on economic connections and phenomena of the German economy are among the best German cinema and television has to offer. They bear witness to a high level of expertise and make complex economic and social interrelationships easy for the viewer to understand. Early on, for example, they named the mechanisms that led to the bursting of the Internet bubble at the turn of the millennium and, in autumn 2008, to the biggest global economic crisis since 1929.

Marcus Vetter succeeds in entertaining and arousing emotions despite the difficult subject matter, as he finds people who get involved themselves or at least try to get a small piece of the cake when the big profits are distributed. Or are stunned by the whole game. He gets close to them and justifies their trust by never exposing them, but letting them be themselves.

Dokumentarfilm Info

Marcus Vetter began his career as a freelance editor and author at Südwestrundfunk. From 1997 he also realized his own projects such as “Der Tunnel” (1999), for which he won a Grimme Prize. He was also awarded this coveted television prize for “Wo das Geld wächst” (2000) and “Broadway Bruchsal” (2001), which he shot together with Dominik Wessely. At the media talk in Stuttgart he also explained in detail the problems of individual productions. Whether the main protagonists jumped off at short notice, broadcasters demanded a different title or suddenly had difficulties because his protagonist did not speak German. As a result, he has been producing his films on an independent basis for ten years now, but receives regular support from broadcasters such as SWR, Arte, NDR, BR, WDR as well as numerous regional and national film subsidies.

Thematically and stylistically he is open and it is entirely up to the story and the theme how he creates a film: Whether with or without commentary, what role the music plays or what aesthetic style is chosen for the images. Therefore, at first glance there is no uniform handwriting that could be recognized as “Marcus Vetter style”.

The audience has to experience something that he cannot experience otherwise.

Marcus Vetter

Interviews

with Marcus vetter