Germany, INTERVIEWS, Philippines — 09/21/2011 5:13 PM

Björn Jensen (Ginger Foot/Germany): “we are looking for Asian partners to widen the scope of our new doc story”

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Björn Jensen, Managing Director of Ginger Foot Films from Germany, shared his working experience and talked about his new documentary project “Forgotten Slaves” about former comfort women in Asia

1. Could you introduce yourself ? How did you get involved or why are you interested in documentary industry?

My name is Björn Jensen. I am Managing Director of Ginger Foot Films. I produce films, consult other film production companies, distribute documentary films, and lecture at several film schools and universities. I hold a master degree in English and German Literature and a master of business administration.

I started to work as an intern in fictional TV series and it was after I passed my master degree that I directed my first documentary film. I later worked as head of production in a company that produced theatrical docs and feature films and I realized that very often life writes fascinating stories. It is my intention to help bring these stories to a wider audience.

2. Could you introduce your production company 

Ginger Foot Films is located in Ismaning near Munich, Germany. It was founded in 2006. I usually have an intern working with me, but in times the office is expanding due to productions. Our main focus of business is consulting and distribution, thus we produce or coproduce only one film a year.

3. Have you already done international coproduction projects in documentary? If so, could you give us examples?

I worked for example on:

Montreal Symphony

Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, 2010, Canada-Germany

Festivals and Awards: FIFA Montreal 2010: Winner Best Canadian Documentary, Filmfest Munich 2010, FBW: Rated Especially Valuable

Eileen Gray

Invitation to A Voyage, 2006, Germany-Ireland-Netherlands

Festivals and Awards: FIFA Festival Montreal 2008: Best Portrait

4. Have you already produced documentary in Asia or about Asia? If so, give us some examples

I am currently working on a film on comfort women in the Philippines for which I am looking for Asian partners.

5. Have you already coproduced documentary in Asia or with Asian coproducers? Could you give us examples and share with us your experience (What are the difficulties, opportunities, and advantages did you see in cooperation with Asians)?

In the doc world, I have been working on two projects in Asia, but they are not finished yet. My wife is Asian and we have travelled many Asian countries. I worked on a feature coproduction shot in China and am setting up another feature film to be shot in the Philippines, for a third one I am still looking for the perfect environment.

The advantages for international coproduction are clearly the local expertise that a partner brings in. The difficulties may be different aspects, which each partner might see in the story, different cultural backgrounds and possible incompatibilities in terms of financing.

6. How did you find partners in Asia? (Festivals, forums, markets, personal contacts…) What do you think is the main problem to find good partners in Asia?

Besides being a regular at MIPTV and several European Festivals, I have attended GZDOC and Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival, where I met quite a few interesting people. I experienced that the Asian business environment is rapidly changing. Thus the Governments need to keep pace and offer support programs, which are compatible with international co-production standards and especially EU funding regulations.

7. What do you think about European audience’s interest in Asia and documentary about Asia? What about the audience in your country? Which subject could be interesting for European audience?

Asia is certainly a bristling continent with incredible stories to be told. Festivals show that there is a growing interest abroad for these films. However, there seems to be a tendency with some European broadcasters to look more for national and regional content and therefore it becomes increasingly difficult to get films financed with international subjects.

8. Do you have documentary projects about/in Asia? If so, in which country and what subject?

Right now, we are trying to close financing for a documentary called “Forgotten Slaves – The Comfort Women of the Philippines”. It is a film about former comfort women (women who were put into mass rape camps by Japanese soldiers during World War II) from the Philippines.

9. Can you present this current project <Forgotten Slaves> with more details? (Running time, budget, target audience, production and release schedule etc.) What kind of partners/help are you looking for in Asia? (Coproduction, local executives, local authorities, local financial support, research of archives etc.)

“Forgotten Slaves” has a budget of about 180,000 €, 52 minutes, HD. Our main marketing channel will be TV with a skew to educated middle class. Currently we are looking for Asian partners to widen the scope of the story.

10. In the last 2 years, have you seen any Asian documentaries that impressed you? If so, which one?

“Please Vote for Me” (Directed by Weijun Chen)


Interviewed by mail  21 September, 2011

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