Marc Bauder

The German documentary Master of the Universe by Marc Bauder (DE/AT, Bauderfilm) was awarded the Prix SRG SSR as Best Film by the jury of the independent section of Semaine de la Critique at the Festival del Film in Locarno. Director and producer Marc Bauder accepted the prize award, with a cash prize of 8,000 Swiss Francs, in Locarno on Saturday.

The protagonist of Master of the Universe was one of the leading investment bankers in Germany. He made profits of several millions a day. In the film, he sits in an deserted bank in the middle of Frankfurt and talks for the first time, offering a frightening insider's perspective from a megalomaniac, quasi-religious parallel world behind mirrored facades. The documentary celebrated its world premiere in Locarno and received great interest from the audience. Both screenings were sold out and a third one had to be organized because of the great demand.

The independent sidebar Semaine de la Critique is organized by the Swiss Association of Film Journalists in collaboration with the Festival del Film Locarno. The jury comprised critics Maria Giovanna Vagenas (Italy), Bernadette Meier (Switzerland) and Pablo Marin Castro (Chile). 

Switzerland's most important film festival and the smallest international A-festival was held in Locarno from 7 to 17 August 2013.

I firstly want to thank Birgit Koch at German Films for helping me to see this very interesting German language documentary at Locarno and for arranging my interview with the director, Marc Bauder from Berlin.

As for the film, Master of the Universe, it is very strange, unsettling and full of valuable - sometimes shocking - information. (For the record - I do NOT intend this to be a review, save that for others.) I'd recommend it however. It is a long rambling discourse -- one subject, one speaker -- in an abandoned floor of a Frankfurt stock market / bank building in the middle of a new district of high rises that could be London or Chicago or Shanghai. The one man in the film speaks in German as he wanders the locale discoursing on his life as a very well paid, now senior, stock guy and the lives such people like himself lead. Chilling stuff, but see the film for more.

Marc Bauder, from Berlin, feels his film very strongly speaks for itself. He feels the financial system has a very big effect on our lives and he is somewhat cynical re any coming changes. 'The same solutions are always offered, these repeat history and the conclusions seem repetitive - "too big to fail, too big to jail".

He feels bankers are always asked the same questions about repetitive systemic problems. While it is assumed that we, "should not be afraid to question the system", he feels any changes will take decades, if they are ever accomplished.

One fascinating example of the strangeness of this financial system is that the huge financial center of high buildings in Frankfurt is 30% empty due to a strange benefit real estate types get from building big structures and then keeping them empty deliberately. Irrational; but profitable.

Master of the Universe 2

He believes that in the end rather than jail these financial characters we need to change our world. Raising questions turns the mirror on ourselves - how are we also culpable for these excesses and crimes of finance today? Don't we always look away rather than finding solutions?

Bauder raises these issues in what I feel is a smart - if offhanded - way. Interesting and disturbing to talk to him.

For his next films he will produce and direct a documentary series about power and mortality.

The series will include films about :

  • justice under the law
  • politics
  • media

Bauder has previously directed 8 films.  You can read more about the director Marc Bauder (and see stills from the film) here: