“Das ist mein Home” – Bartholomew Sammut: An Australian film maker in Berlin. By guest blogger Anett Löffler
This May marks the tenth anniversary of one of Berlin’s coolest film events: The Xposed International Queer Film Festival will come back to Moviemento from 21-24 May 2015. The motto this year is Return to Oz in reference to the first edition of the festival, which presented a range of Australian short films. If it wasn’t for Aussie filmmaker and director Bartholomew Sammut, Xposed would not exist today.
The Xposed founder has lived in Berlin for several years: “I was drunk one night and thought I need to get away from Australia”, explains Bart and continues “I closed my eyes and put my finger on the world map. By chance, I picked either Poland or Berlin, so I chose Berlin.”
It was his first trip overseas and when he arrived in Berlin his first thought was: “This feels like home.”Bart stayed for 12 months before going back and forth between the two continents for several years. It was in 2009, just before he was meant to leave Berlin for good, when he met his future husband at Berlin’s gay bar SchwuZ. And that changed everything.
Shorts – A different kind of storytelling
Before coming to Berlin, Bart had worked on various film projects. The Xposed festival is the second film festival Bart is a part of. Back in Australia he organized the Short Crap Film Festival in Brisbane for a few years, together with his Fully Flared Films partner Kelly West. Thinking back he sums up the the festival as a “great opportunity to show films that had a lot of potential, but whose makers had to still further their skills.”
Bart initially got involved in short films at the age of 18. Eventually he enrolled for a film and television course in Brisbane and produced his own first short film, for which the rights were purchased by Australian’s national TV network SBS TV. Later on he took a job with SBS and worked on the short film program Eat Carpet which was “quite experimental and queer in not just form but content as well… and presented some very intelligent short films.”
During that time, Bart developed an even stronger ambition for highly condensed short narratives: “It’s a different kind of storytelling. Who can tell a story in less than five minutes? That’s a talent, I think.”
Berlin – The perfect equilibrium of peace and creative restlessness
It’s the mix of tranquility and excitement in Berlin that he enjoys the most: “Berlin is a great city. There is always something to do. But I can also find my peace.” There are many places in the city to enjoy a drink or coffee, like Südblock, SchwuZ, but also Moviemento cinema and his own couch, he adds smiling. It was through the team at Moviemento that he got to know about Down Under Berlin. So far he had one of his own films showcased at the festival and also curated Down Under Berlin’s Open Screen program in 2014.
What makes him feel especially at home in Berlin is a strong sense of safety: “It’s a more accepting place. I can go out into the street and wear a skirt and that’s ok. In Australia, that was a different story.” His first feature film Nancy Pansy Hairy Mary, directed by Christoph Scheermann, tells of a victim of homophobic bullying, who commits a murder in the heat of the moment. For fear of never ending hate crimes he goes on a bloody road trip in which the revenger on high heels finds his first big love.
Pre production for the movie will start shortly. We will keep you posted.
Anett Löffler was born in 1979 in Berlin and studied European Ethnology at Humboldt University – Berlin. She has published articles for several blogs and print media. The city and it’s various culturescapes are at the core of her writing.