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Hey, Here's My Card
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Business means business and without a business card you are out of the game. It didn’t take long for two novice Currents critics to realize that something was missing. You know: that nice little rectangular-shaped card that easily slips out of your own pocket into the hands of another. Everyone seemed to be doing it with such ease and it certainly seemed to help break the ice in order to get to know one another a little more quickly. I wished I had had one! For example; I spoke to freelance television reporter Anna who has worked for Russian Television for over thirty years. She thought that the most exciting time in Berlin was when the wall came down, when the air was filled with new and old ideas, bringing a new energy to the film industry. She lived on a shoestring budget and had to create a network in order to have a film crew for her interviews. Quite often different countries would share interviews as well as filming crews to save money on the average price, EUR 400 per hour. When one got an interview, another journalist would dub it into his own language.

A film buyer from France tried to explain what he was looking for in a film and how difficult it was today to pick a popular film since there was so much competition. My friend from Hamburg, Sevim Arslanmirza, wants to become a film director’s assistant. She said that it is extremely important to be in Berlin to network with others in the field. She naturally was organized, had a business card and could socialize well with people. So by the time we ran into each other, she was in a group of directors, actors and film assistants. They all had cards, but were very selective in giving them out. An actress gave me an artistic card three times the normal size with her photo on it. Too large for your wallet, you really had to think about this card because you would be stuck with it in your hand all night. A director of documentaries just told people to put his telephone number into their cell phones.

Olivier Bradley hand-wrote his card in colorful pens and said that he was changing jobs and was interested in organizing small film festivals within the Asian genre. I told him about Chuck Boller who organizes the film festival in Hawaii and is one of the first people to get films from Asia. (Yes, I, too, can network.) I promised to forward that information to help him get his idea off the ground. I was most embarrassed when Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, a Cambodian student filmmaker who has entered her short film in the upcoming Hamburg film festival, asked me for my card since I live in Hamburg and all I could say, gritting my teeth, was that I was all out of cards.

I met film director Lenny Abrahamson of Adam and Paul as well as the director Shonali Bose of Amu. Both of these films were made with very little money and were basically completed as a labor of love. For Adam and Paul, Lenny Abrahamson said that he had a budget of EUR 400,000 and it was filmed in 22 days. He said that every line was deliberately done in the style of Laurel and Hardy, so well that it appeared to be spontaneous. Shonali Bose made Amu in five years, never giving up hope that she would finish this film about the Sikh massacre in India in the 1980s. She told every person never to give up hope in making their dreams come true.