Jörg Wagner knows the short film scene backwards and forwards: born in 1967 in Stuttgart, and now living and working in Hamburg, he trained as an AV media designer, directed various stage shows, and hosted events. He was already able to start living out his fascination with short film in 1996 as an employee of the Hamburg Short Film Festival, where he directed the distribution department of the Short Film Agency for a few years. Wagner is thus a prime example of the fact that in Hamburg especially the border has never clearly been drawn between enthusiastic short-film viewers or festival organizers on the one side and active producers on the other. After making various trailers and commercials, one such idea led him to produce an elaborate 10-minute short co-developed with Stefan Prehn, Forkliftdriver Klaus – The First Day on the Job (Staplerfahrer Klaus – Der Erste Arbeitstag) was screened at over 100 international short film festivals, including as competition entry in Cannes. It won 17 awards, including the German Film Critics' Prize as best short film of 2001 and the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Short Film Award.
His next production was Motodrom, a short documentary with powerful imagery that premiered in January 2006.As a critic rightfully remarked, Jörg Wagner has created with Motodrom one of the great documentaries of the past few years, one that radiates a timeless beauty that was often thought lost in the documentary film world. After over 60 festival invitations worldwide and diverse prizes the film was given an honourable mention at the Sundance Film Festival at the end of January 2007.
"The impulse to make a short film starts with an idea that I urgently want to realize", says Wagner when asked what motivates him as filmmaker. "I think that viewing the short film as calling card is problematic", he comments, criticizing the widely held prejudice that short films are merely practice exercises for up-and-coming feature-film makers. Appreciation for the genre on its own merits, similar to that enjoyed in the literary realm by the short story, is largely lacking in Germany, however, reflected for one thing by the dearth of financing opportunities faced even by a successful filmmaker like Wagner. "Instead of two or three short-film projects, usually only one film is funded, or significantly less money is made available."
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