Biographies

Chris Wright

born 1972 in Radcliffe, England
studied German and French in Cambridge and Leipzig
training as a film editor at Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg
works as a freelance documentary-maker, film editor and journalist
lives in Berlin.

Stefan Kolbe

born 1972 in Halle, East Germany
worked as a newspaper photographer and journalist
training as a film cameraman at Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg
works as a freelance documentary-maker and cameraman
lives in Franzigmark, Berlin and Uckermark.

Filmography

2014
PRIESTS | PFARRER
documentary, 90 min, © ma.ja.de. | mdr | Arte | kolbewright
DOK Leipzig

A large group of young people in liturgical robes look at the audience, wave their arms and chant “Aaah, hoooo!” Their entranced faces as they sing and pray could be irritating, just like their fairly unusual career aspirations: these people want to become pastors. In remarkable contrast to such irritations and certainly suitable to qualify some prejudices, the aspiring ministers seem anything but entranced. The seminar they attend seems almost like a therapy group. They want to take up this profession because they believe in God, but surely also because their biographies are the way they are. They talk more openly about their lives than many would have expected – especially considering that the filmmakers call themselves atheists and don’t hesitate to ask critical questions. This creates a striking look at religiousness, concepts of humanity and life plans – and somehow even a consensus between the different perspectives in front of and behind the lens. catalog DOK Leipzig

DVD available (german version with english subitles) Edition Salzgeber

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2010
THE HOME | KLEINSTHEIM
documentary, 87 min, © Kolbe | Blinker Filmproduktion
DOK Leipzig (German Competition, special mention), Duisburger Filmwoche, Dokumentarfilmwoche Hamburg, Achtung Berlin

Anyone who ends up in this castle in the midst of a wilderness, at the end of a winding small town street, leaves behind a big part of what we call childhood, even if they are only eight years old. Seven children and adolescents live here in a family-like therapy group under the care of welfare workers, because they were unable to manage at home. Kolbe/Wright are far from presenting these children as “problem cases” or “institution children”, though. Rather, an apparently floating camera depicts the condition of growing up from unusual angles, in a unique rhythm of contemplative, intimate moments and breathless movement. Still, the childrens’ mostly traumatic pasts are omnipresent: in whispered messages, letters to absent or dead parents, occasional outbreaks of violence and faces that change from brave, grown-up laughter to childlike tears within seconds. Is it possible to overcome a traumatic childhood? In voice-over – which creates a metalevel – one of the children reads a science assignment: “Man is the only creature that chooses its own path – towards good or bad.” P.S. The German television stations did not deem this film worthy of one cent of funding. There’s no need to worry about the children in this tiny home, but the programming decisions of some media are cause for concern. catalog DOK Leipzig

Presskit pdf

DVD available (german version with english subitles) contact

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2010
THE DISCIPLE | AUF DEM WACHSTUMSPFAD
documentary, 29 min, © ma.ja.de. | Kolbe | 3sat
International Festival of Cinema and Religion, Trient, Kasseler Dokfilmfest

Seeing God is not proof, says Kevin, aged 13. No, feeling is the only real proof of God’s love. It was God’s hand that brought his family from Kazakhstan to Germany. Now he joins his parents at their Pentecostal church three times a week. And since a healthy spirit needs a healthy body, Kevin boxes. He trains with his father in the garden. Kevin is tired.

Presskit pdf

DVD available (german version with english subitles) contact

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2006
THE BLOCK | DAS BLOCK
documentary, 75 min, © ma.ja.de | Kolbe | Arte-France | ZDF/3sat
Visions du Réel Nyon, Crossing Europe Linz, Duisburger Filmwoche

The sky above Sachsen Anhalt is witness. Witness of a past history and witness of the people who came afterwards in search of a chance and an identity in Germany after the war and until today. Yet the witness remains silent. Only the descendants can speak in its stead. Four inhabitants of a prefabricated concrete building in Gräfenhainichen disclose their life story to filmmakers Stefan Kolbe and ChrisWright. In intimist close-ups they speak about their fears and longings: Hajo is existentially afraid of solitude and has been terrorized by an anonymous caller for years. Olga longs to return home to her family in Russia before her approaching death. Silvio tries to put order into his disrupted family life with a paternity test, and Natalya puts her worldly existence into nature’s healing hands. Solely their shared microcosm, the building, seems to provide a link to these dramatically different, individual fates. But paradoxically, the portrayees’ verbal articulations reveal that which remains inexpressible: isolated words in German and Russian, organised in sentences, push their way almost surreally into the outside world and get caught up in contradictions.The artificiality and grotesqueness of the language used in DAS BLOCK articulates a very particular reality of the ex- East German condition at the lower end of the Federal German society. The sky as a leitmotif provides a background for the need to testify, as essential as the air for breathing. catalog visions du réel, Nyon

DVD available (german version with english subitles) contact

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2003
THE PROGRESS OF HAPPINESS | TECHNIK DES GLÜCKS
documentary, 68 min, © Kolbe | HFF
DOK Leipzig (intl. competition, special mention Fipresci), Duisburger Filmwoche, Visions du Réel Nyon (Prix Kodak Suisse),
Shadow Festival Amsterdam (Kodak Shadow Award), Kasseler Dokfilmfest, Int. Filmfestival Göteborg

The grandfather of filmmaker Chris Wright was supposed to have attacked it with a Royal Air Force bomber during the
Second World War: Zschornewitz, then the world’s largest brown coal-fired power station. According to the rumor, he didn’t find it. Neither did the other bombers, and after the war, the power station became part of East Germany’s state economy, a symbol of technology and progress. Together with co-maker Stefan Kolbe, Wright uses the occasion of the millennial change to visit this East German industrial province, and finds the empty site that his grandfather didn’t
manage to find. The ravages of time (and German reunification) have eroded the power station, the chimneys and turbine halls have been destroyed, the machinery from the coal pits has grown petrified in an industrial museum, and the workers and inhabitants have largely disappeared. What can still be seen are the amateur films of the workers on the job, representations of large-scale industry and labor, but above all of everyday life and private happiness. In TECHNIK DES GLÜCKS, this “wild” material – often disparate and redundant, with thousands of chimney explosions from only marginally different positions and perspectives, yet which consistently remains unique and headstrong – enters into a dialogue with the strictly and precisely composed shots of Kolbe and Wright. In the editing, together with the music and narrated letters to Wright’s grandfather, this is all consolidated into a tale about a destroyed past, a precarious present, and a non existant future. catalog visions du réel, Nyon

Presskit pdf

DVD available (german version with english subitles) contact

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1999
Nernich – NOWHERE NOTHING | NERNICH – NIRGENDS NICHTS
documentary, 76 min, © Kolbe | HFF
Visions du Réel Nyon

Pervalka is one of the small fishing villages in the Lithuanian section of the Curonian Spit, which over the past 60 years has changed its national allegiance nine times. Kolbe & Wright shot NERNICH there at the end of the holiday season, yet he shows us nothing of the village’s eventful history. In one of the film’s opening scenes, we see a television crew for whom Pervalka has failed to provide any answers to their historical questions. The only thing they now know, according to the crew’s spokesperson, is nothing. For Kolbe & Wright, this “nothing” becomes a central theme: nothing spectacular ever happens in NERNICH. In long and precisely framed shots, the film-makers waits for a dog to scratch itself. The life of fisherman Fritz Jakait is also nothing sensational. He guts the fish, smokes them, and sells them at the market. Kolbe & Wright had this process become film’s central thread, and they then goes on to deconstruct it at the same time. Nernich consists of isolated scenes that together form independent episodes in which the film-makers concentrate on picturesque or amusing details, on the colors and shapes of the landscape. Helmut, a German, explains how a company is conducting underwater tests, much like in America, wherever they suspect buried treasure lies hidden. With his impressionistic documentary film, Kolbe & Wright had found just such a treasure in “nothing.” catalog visions du réel, Nyon
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1997
BREAD & PICKLE | GURKE & BROT (with Robert Jäger)
documentary, 42 min, © HFF
Duisburger Filmwoche, Visions du Réel Nyon, Young Artists‘ Award of Hessen State Minister of Culture

“You know what I mean. You just can’t sink your teeth into a cucumber, or into bread,” announces Siggi to Uwe, who would still prefer to eat a hamburger despite mad cow disease. “I just can’t chew a cucumber.” And the reply: “It’s very simple. If you can’t chew, you just have to suck.” With a stubbornness bordering on the absurd, Siggi defends his life and the one of his friends. Together with Uwe, Teddy and Isa, he has been living for several years in an underground garage in Stuttgart. The domicile consists of five parking spaces. Although it has no walls, for the four of them it is a private space, behind which the outside world begins. For them, putting out the garbage means throwing a bag into the container behind the nearest support pillar. And when a supplier brings the beer, he sets the bottles in front of the five parking spaces as if the underground garage were the front yard of a house. Kolbe’s images amplifie these impressions sparingly. He limits himself to a minimal scene resolution, which often lends the shots a fragmentary character. Thus the framing, underscored by the support pillars at the edge of the picture, acts as a substitute for the domicile’s missing walls. The camera abandons them only when Siggi goes off with his dog. The camera then switches to long shots, as if it were an exterior scene. In BREAD & PICKLE, Jäger, Kolbe and Wright succeed in allowing the normal and the absurd to overturn one another, and thus succeed in portraying the dreariness of life in the underground garage without any judgment. catalog visions du réel, Nyon

Contact

Chris Wright & Stefan Kolbe
info(at)wright-kolbe-film.de
+49 177 6632391