Documentary Long-Term Observations
Long-term observations are considered the supreme discipline within the documentary genre; yet, due to shrinking budgets, their production has become ever more difficult, and they are rarely produced in Germany. The internationally acclaimed Losers and Winners by Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken, as well as their most recent work Göttliche Lage (“Divine Location”), both represent outstanding long-term observations of construction and dismantling processes. Losers and Winners follows the disassembly of a massive coking plant in the Ruhr area undertaken by Chinese workers, who subsequently rebuild the same plant in China. Göttliche Lage depicts an urban development project from the perspective of project managers and the local residents who are affected by gentrification. Loeken discusses the difficulties of selecting the decisive moments during the long shooting process, the possibilities of preparing and researching long-term observations, and the moment when the construction process comes into focus and disappears from view.
Michael Loeken (b. 1954) studied theatre, film, and television in Cologne. In 1981, he wrote the screenplay for the documentary Ich hatte schon begonnen, die Freiheit zu vergessen, (“I had already begun to forget freedom”), which he also directed. From 1982 to 1996 he worked as a sound engineer on various documentaries and feature films for television and cinema. He has been working as a writer, director, and producer since 1996.