I have lived in the world of documentary films for more than forty years; From the very beginning, it’s been my passion to tell stories about people, real people, no matter what background they might have – from portraits of master craftsmen in my early work, to films about artists or victims of violence and abuse, from simple workers to a woman of global fame.
Born in Munich in 1953, I grew up in London, West-Berlin and in the United States. After my parents had permanently settled in America in 1973, I stayed in Europe to study Law and later on, Italian and French Literature, Linguistics and History of Art at Universities in Italy, France and Germany.
For two years I worked in France, first in the city of Tours and later on in Paris, assisting world-renowned director Ariane Mnouchkine („1789“; „Molière“) with a dramatization of Klaus Mann’s anti-Nazi novel „Mephisto“ for her Théâtre du Soleil. Simultaneously I co-developed and co-produced a long-term documentary about Mnouchkine and the making of „Mephisto“ for German Television (ARD). The opportunity to help make that documentary come to life convinced me to give up my university-career for good, to start over from the beginning and learn the craft of filmmaking.
Based in Munich during the early eighties, free-lance work as a journalist and director/producer for German Television (ARD/ZDF), Austrian Television (ORF) and independent production companies.
In 1982 my son Maximilian was born.
From 1985 onward, I focused on making longer documentary films, covering a wide range of subjects: from profiles of artists to dramatized documentaries on the Old Testament, from travelogues to social issues.
In 1989 Academy-Award-winner Malcolm Clarke invited me to write and direct: „Guns: A Day in The Death of America“ for his company, Filmworks. “Guns” premiered on HBO in the „America Undercover“–series and aired frequently in the United States and around the world.
During the nineties I directed several pieces for the prestigious „37°C“-documentary-series on German National Television (ZDF):„Miss Baby or the Drama of the Perfect Child“. The film about small children as victims of overly ambitious parents won a Gold Award for Best Documentary at the Charleston International Film and Video Festival. It also aired repeatedly on the CBC documentary program: “The Passionate Eye”.
1993 “The Guru’s Army of God” – The enormous public outcry after the film aired nationwide in Germany finally led to the decision by German authorities to cancel the criminal Guru Thakar Singh’s visa and prevent him from further divulging his horrendous methods of forcing small children to “meditate” up to 20 hours a day.
„Forbidden Calling: Catholic Women Priests in America“ (Silver Award Worldfest Flagstaff International Film and Video Festival; Bronze Award Worldfest Houston)
„My Child, the Guru and I “: This film about an individual victim of the criminal Indian „Guru“ Thakar Singh, specialized in child-abuse, had one of the highest ratings in the „37°C“-series at the time.
Again for ZDF, two films for a prime-time series about ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples: “Nomads of the South Seas” and “Shaolin – The Secret of Chi”.
In 1999/2000 I wrote, produced and directed films for a highly successful Bavarian Television documentary-series portraying peoples’ lives along the River Danube: “From Ulm to Passau” and “Between Romania and Bulgaria”.
Later on, a series about Cathedrals in Bavaria and the people who work and live with and around these centuries-old architectural masterpieces: „Cathedral Stories: Munich” and “Cathedral Stories: Würzburg”.
In 2003 I decided to return my Green Card to the US-Government because I no longer wanted to feel torn between living and working on both sides of the Atlantic – since then I am permanently based in my native city of Munich.
In 2005, jury-member of “Deutscher Kamerapreis”, the most prestigious award in Germany for directors of photography and editors.
My feature-length portrait of “The River Isar” turned out to be the documentary with one of the highest ratings to date on Bavarian Television and went on to win a Silver Chris Award in 2006 at the Columbus Intl. Film Festival, a Silver Plaque at the Chicago Intl. Television Awards 2007 and a Platinum REMI Award in Houston, TX. (Worldfest 2007).
2006/7 A two-part documentary for Bavarian Television about the consequences of climate change for the population in the Alps: “The Challenge of Change in the Melting Heart of the Alps”:
2007/9 Consultant and jury-member of the “Media-Contest-Sustainability” for the Austrian Ministry of the Environment and Development in Vienna;
2004 – 2010 Development and production of “Jane’s Journey” a documentary film for the big screen about the life and work of world-famous British primatologist, environmental activist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall.
2010 After the world premiere of “Jane’s Journey” in Berlin, I re-founded the „Jane Goodall Institute for Animals, Wildlife and the Environment“ in Germany (www.janegoodall.de) together with a small group of friends and volunteers.
2011/12 „Jane’s Journey“ is invited to many festivals around the world and shortlisted for an Academy Award. At the “Cinema for Peace”- Festival in Berlin “Jane’s Journey” wins the “International Green Film Award“ (a.k.a. “The Green Oscar”).
2016 Jury-member of the Documentary Film Division of the Shanghai International Film Festival.
2011 – 2018 I wrote and directed a series of six award-winning documentaries for Bavarian Television dealing with environmental subjects, specifically with the problematic and even destructive side effects of the “green energy-revolution” which is transforming the landscapes, forests and groundwater-reserves in Germany at a very rapid pace.
In November of 2018 I was re-elected as chairman of the board of the Jane Goodall Institute in Germany based in Munich.
2018 Probably triggered by a malaria-prophylaxis during a research trip to Tanzania, I began to suffer from extremely severe arthritic problems, especially in the joints of the feet, knees and hands which made it impossible for me to continue my career as a documentary filmmaker. A frustrating odyssey took me from specialist to specialist and ended one and a half years later with the final diagnosis of an autoimmune-disease that cannot be healed, only “controlled”, at best…
2019 – 2021 I consider myself extremely lucky that thanks to modern medicine my autoimmune disease is indeed somewhat under control, meaning that my joints tend to function more or less without pain again and I can move “normally” as long as I take the powerful immune-suppressive medications. As a consequence, I was able to realize a dream I had been carrying with me for the past twenty years: to study and train the art of Hawaiian bodywork “Lomi Lomi Nui”. During a research trip to Kauai for my documentary about the amazing navigators of ancient Polynesia, I had come into contact with a local “Kahuna” who opened my eyes and my heart for this wonderfully intense, beautiful and magical kind of massage.