When I arrived in Tel-Aviv, a festival volunteer picked me up at the airport and drove me to the Tel-Aviv University. Military style. I checked in with the festival staff and was introduced to a local student who would host me throughout the event. It was common for students from the host-country to provide accommodations for their foreign guests, but this guy didn’t seem to trust me and refused to give me the keys to his apartment. I had to ring the buzzer and wake him up each time I got in late. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was a foreigner or if he just thought I was a weirdo and didn’t really want me in his home.
I didn’t escape jury duty. And that was actually the best thing that ever happened to me. A festival organizer gave me the schedule of the film screenings I had to attend. Because of the high volume of films, screenings were scheduled throughout the entire day, starting at 10am. I was scheduled to attend all the morning screenings, which meant that I had to get up at 8am to make it to the university on time for the first show. Fuck. I hated it already. But although I didn’t know it at the time, being on the jury would change everything for me.
While being assigned to one of three groups of jurors, I met Charles Milne, the dean of the graduate film department of New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
Watching that many films everyday was hard work. I took it very seriously and did my best to support the films I really liked. But due to either my lack of speaking proper English or my status as a student I couldn’t push those films hard enough to be considered for an award. I learned how things worked on a jury panel, though. Basically, the representatives from each film school would push one of their student’s film hard enough to be nominated by the jury. Not that the films weren’t well made, but experimental works or art films didn’t stand a chance. What made it into the final round was commercial work that came from places like New York or London. I fought for a few really artistic animation films, but I couldn’t get any of the other jury members to pay much attention to what I had to say.
When my film LIFEPAK was shown I convinced Charles Milne to watch it. He was excited and suggested that after I graduate I should come to New York and study film at NYU. He offered to write a letter of support and suggested that I apply for the DAAD student exchange program. It would cover the tuition for one year and pay for living expenses. I liked the idea of going to New York. I didn’t know anyone there, but I had been to the States twice and liked it. To live and work for a year in New York should be pretty cool, but I had to graduate and also get the DAAD scholarship in order to pay for all of it. For now this was over a year away, but the idea was planted in my head.
After the screening of LIFEPAK some people approached me wanting to talk about it. Since the piece is kind of extreme many viewers had problems enjoying it for what it was — a documentary about paramedics. A woman from Amsterdam who was another student representative in the jury, came up to me to tell me how much she liked the flick. I thanked her but didn’t pay much attention to her until I hooked up with her a few days later during the closing ceremony of the festival.
Then an Israeli girl approached me. She was a big girl by my standards — she called herself “juicy.” She said: “You, I have to talk to you about your film.” It sounded like an accusation. What followed was a lengthy conversation about the ethical responsibilities of a filmmaker. She couldn’t understand why I would film a sick person for the purpose of a documentary. Somehow she was intrigued and disgusted by my work at the same time. She tried to spin a connection between the Nazi past of Germany and the esthetics of my film. I had a hard time explaining what I was doing, partly due to my bad English, and partly due to not being prepared to explain and analyze my own work. I had great difficulties in making my point. I was interested in reality and not in academics but she was all over me, talking my ear off, and wouldn’t let me go until she got all the answers. I explained to her that the film is based on my personal experiences as an EMS social worker and that I believe that a filmmaker should be familiar with his subject matter, or the work will fail. When making this film I knew exactly what I was talking about and that distinguished it from many others at the festival.
I wasn’t really interested in talking to her and tried to avoid her. But every day I showed up at the festival she would come up to me. She was a big talker and enjoyed conversing about every aspect of everyday life in great detail. I didn’t want to be impolite, but she started to get on my nerves and so I introduced her to Charles Milne.
During the closing ceremony, the girl from Amsterdam came up to me again and we started talking. The festival organizers had arranged a party at a local club where everybody went after the official end of the festival. They drove us to the outskirts of Tel-Aviv. The club was located in an industrial area of the city. We drank a lot of hard liquor and danced all night until they threw us out around 4am. I wasn’t in the mood to go home and I was also afraid that I wouldn’t get into the apartment ’cause I still didn’t have keys and I wasn’t sure if my host would open the door for me at this hour. So I persuaded the Dutch girl to join me on an excursion through the neighborhood and we started walking around on that Sunday morning to kill some time.
That same day Charles fucked her in his hotel room, she told me later. He told her that he couldn’t get it up using a condom and they had unprotected sex, which I thought was stupid, but it wasn’t really any of my business. At least she left me alone for a couple of days and I enjoyed myself at the festival.
We arrived at a small apartment building that had a few bushes planted near the entrance. We both wanted to get laid but we had no place to go and so we figured having oral sex in the front yard of this apartment building was a good option. After a little while it was clear that this wasn’t the place to be. People started to come out of their apartments to go to work and were passing by just a few feet away. Nobody acknowledged us but we were both very uncomfortable and decided to leave. In the near distance I saw a factory complex with a huge hole in its fence and I suggested going there. There was no security and we entered one of the warehouses without running into anybody.
We left the factory and realized that we had no idea where we were. We walked for a few minutes until we found a cab.
It was an old can factory. Thousands of empty cans were piled up throughout the place and there was an assembly line in the center. We strolled around to make sure nobody was working yet and then we climbed up on a pile of cartons filled with empty cans. It was a little shaky on top of all the boxes but we managed to keep our balance while we took off some of our clothes and fucked. Her body was soft and she had big saggy breasts and a hairy pussy. The situation was sort of funny, I thought. Two Europeans on a pile of cans in Israel fucking their brains out at 5 in the morning. We managed to finish without falling off the top of our improvised love nest and realized that our clothes were filthy as hell from all the Schmutz in the factory and the dirt from lying on the ground in the first place.
I dropped her off at her location and when I got to my place and rang the buzzer my host opened the door and looked at me with an expression of disgust and started to ask questions about my dirty clothes. I ignored him and headed straight for the bathroom. I showered with my pants on and took a nap.
A few hours later I had to catch a plane back to Munich. The Israeli girl picked me up and gave me a ride on her scooter to a bus stop where I could catch a ride to the airport. Before I boarded the bus she told me that she would come to Munich soon to visit me. I wasn’t enthusiastic about it, but I told her that she could give me a call sometime.
I said goodbye to her, thanked her for the ride and secretly hoped not to see her again — at least any time soon. I had no idea that this girl would follow me around for the next few years of my life, like a shadow, wherever I went. I felt stalked already.
In Munich I talked to Lä about the festival experience and told him about meeting Charles Milne from New York University. Lä and Charles were friends for a long time. I said that Charles would like to support me coming to New York and he said: “Just fill out the application for the DAAD scholarship.”
In 1992 I went to New York.
(Andreas Troeger ©2013)
In 1991 I was invited to the Tel-Aviv Student Film Festival in Israel to show my film LIFEPAK. Wolfgang Längsfeld was supposed to be on the festival jury but a scheduling conflict prevented him from going. One day he approached me and said: “Andreas, you’ll be on the jury as a student representative.” I was nervous because I had never done this before and had zero experience. Secretly I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to do it and that I could just go and enjoy the festival and party with the girls.
18. Mai 2015