Michael Kranz - Director
Kranz is a filmmaker and actor, living in Munich Germany. As an actor he was part of many German and international movies, among them The White Ribbon, Inglourious Basterds, Bridge of Spies and War Horse.
Parallel to his acting career, Michael was studying Documentary Filmmaking at the University for Television and Film in Munich. His social ad myBorder’s JOYfence received various international awards (including the CLIO in Gold; Art Directors Club New York in Bronze and Silver and Best Film at the Oxford Film Festival).
Kranz is a member of the German Filmacademy and the founder of the Bondhu Project - an NGO which supports women and children who live in the brothel area in Faridpur, Bangladesh.
Making The Film
Every day, many stories of suffering and injustice reach us via social networks, documentaries or the news. How do I deal with all these stories?
When I see someone bleeding on the street, I have the opportunity to go and channel my concern and my desire to help directly into action. With suffering that I see and hear through media, this channelling of my concern is not easily possible. Although the stories that reach me through the media sometimes draw me closer, because I often learn a lot about the people behind the fates and a felt closeness develops. How should I deal with the feelings triggered? Should I dull down, switch off, get used to my passivity? But surely that couldn't be the point of documentary films and the news agencies?
When I studied documentary film directing at the University of Television and Film and I watched many documentaries, this problem was brought home to me. Then, when I was supposed to tackle my own film project, I asked myself, "What kind of documentaries should I make if I'm already so overwhelmed as a member of the audience?"
Of the many documentaries I saw, one interview in particular from "Whore's Glory" by Michael Glawogger stuck in my mind. In this film, a girl who was forced into prostitution in Bangladesh reverses the situation: She asks the filmmaker if she can say something and then asks her own questions: "Why do we women have to live with so much suffering? Is there no other way? Is there any way at all?".
The questions and the girl's fate touched me, the documentary had not missed its target, but how was the girl now? Was she simply a touching moment in a movie for me and that was the end of her function? My first naïve impulse was to want to help. But even though I could watch her fate in my living room, thousands of kilometres were hidden in the milimetre-thick matt screen that separated the realities of our lives. I began to study the topic of media-mediated suffering theoretically. I read books and interviewed experts in various fields. I questioned my desire to help: Me, as a "privileged white man, who wants to help a young girl in a postcolonial country." This was more than questionable. Did I have a helper syndrome? Was it presumptuous to want to help. Was that patriarchal thinking? Was I a wannabe "white-saviour"?
I also conducted many interviews with people on the street and realised that the issue was on many people's minds, I realised how socially relevant the issue was and that the suffering conveyed by the media, reinforced a sense of helplessness and powerlessness in many people.
After two years of theoretical examination of the topic, I decided to take my first impulse "to want to help" seriously. I would travel to Bangladesh, look for the girl and ask her if I could help her in some way. This trip would become my next film. A film from the perspective of a spectator who no longer wants to just watch. Such a journey would of course have to be undertaken in a learning, humble attitude, as I could not understand the world this girl lived in from my perspective and did not know the contexts of the society there. This also meant that the film had to be an open-ended experiment. If I went to Bangladesh into the prostitution milieu and saw, "The stupidest thing I can do here is to unpack my camera," then I had to have the freedom not to make a film at all. I had to be able to question myself and change my mind while filming. For this reason, my producer and I made the film without any external co-producer other than the film school. Then, on a Friday in February, the day came that I flew to Bangladesh - first all by myself without a film crew - and the journey, which can now be seen in the film, began.