the whole epic story

Jan Bolender
* Mainz

The minute he was born one sum­mer night Jan already knew: this world is crazy. His grand­moth­er had just countered his father­’s excited call about her new­born grand­child with anoth­er mat­ter: “Did you hear, the Pope just died!” Sud­denly there were so many ques­tions: Why did he die? Why do I live? What the hell is a pope? Should I become a pope? Less than two months later the next pope has died and Jan stopped con­sid­er­ing that last ques­tion. Instead he began watch­ing movies. Okay, not really the next day, but a few years later. Dis­ney’s “The sword in the stone” became his favor­ite and soon he star­ted col­lect­ing films. After 10 years of daily read­ing of the TV pro­gram and tor­tur­ing his fath­er with the ques­tion: “Is this one worth see­ing?” the VHS-desk was full with Hol­ly­wood adven­ture movies from the fifties, Billy Wilder com­ed­ies from the six­ties, war and agent movies from the sev­en­ties and some … stuff from the late eighties he can­not recall now.

Jan knew, there were no more good films to watch and thought of recon­sid­er­ing the pope thing, but the present one still looked quite healthy. Being a little bit sad he thought about stop­ping to talk — but he feared nobody would notice, because in fact he had­n’t talked so much till now. So he grabbed a pen­cil and took up draw­ing. First gently and pre­cise. Untill his art teach­er Miss Gold­berg told him: “I can­’t see any­thing, let it all out, man!”. He star­ted using acryl­ic col­ors and big­ger can­vasses. Some day there was a first exhib­i­tion in a doc­tor’s office, who repaired Jan’s knee after he had prac­ticed a little bit too hard for his first mara­thon run. Then there were some nice people hanging his paint­ings on their walls. Jan finally for­got about the pope and bought him­self some oil colors.

Aside from paint­ing Jan got fas­cin­ated with anoth­er world: the films of Berg­man, Kubrick, Ant­o­nioni, Tarkovsky and Lynch. Jan did­n’t under­stand much, but that was exactly what excited him. While study­ing com­mu­nic­a­tion design for the next five years Jan tried to do both: paint­ing and film­ing. He just could­n’t make up his mind. And sud­denly there was an award: for film­ing air­planes like insects and insects like air­planes (“neigh­boors”, 2004). Jan took it and thanked Alfred Schnit­tke and Pink Floyd who had been kind enough to write the soundtrack. Jan’s dip­loma movie (“7”, 2005) could have become a real block­buster. It had everything: a bomb, a few ter­ror­ists, an alco­hol­ic philo­soph­er, sports, even a priest. Nobody could explain, why it did­n’t work. Some say, it should­n’t have taken place in a pub­lic toilet.

Over the fol­low­ing years Jan tried to col­lect money to remake “7” by feed­ing mighty film pro­du­cers in Ber­lin cook­ies and Latte Mac­chi­ato, by for­cing poor pol­ish extras to look like Ger­mans shortly after World War II and by tear­ing the Ber­lin Wall down twice. Abso­lutely happy after the second try he was told that they plan to rebuilt it and tear it down till some­body will die watch­ing it on TV. That must have been why Jan decided to leave Ber­lin — at least for the two fol­low­ing years of study­ing film dir­ect­ing at Ham­burg Media School. That what happened there can­not be explained. But Jan came out alive. Hav­ing made many mis­takes. And hav­ing gained much exper­i­ence. Hav­ing met fant­ast­ic people. And strange ones. But not strange enough. For that reas­on he moved back to Ber­lin. Cross­ing a some­how uncre­at­ive val­ley after hav­ing fin­ished the psy­cho-thrill­er “Der Sieger in Dir” for ZDF Das Kleine Fernseh­spiel about a former vic­tim of bul­ly­ing who tries to over­come his trauma by help­ing the fallen enemy, Jan found a new friend, who led him on a new way: con­crete. After hav­ing tor­tured his brain­cells for months try­ing to force them to pro­duce the next film script, he sud­denly found him­self stand­ing on big con­struc­tion sites and restor­ing “Sicht­beton”. Grind­ing, pol­ish­ing and paint­ing (in many more than 50 shades of grey) his lazy brain cells sud­denly restar­ted to work. After the short movie “Error 415: Love”, in which a boy fights for his girl­friend, who feels sexu­ally attrac­ted by con­crete, he wrote his first theatre play “Life is a bitch — oder wie ich gestern meine Zukun­ft fand”, staged anoth­er two, exhib­ited paint­ings in Ber­lin and made a radio play named “Der Beton­flüster­er”, which won the audi­ence award at Ber­liner Hör­spielfest­iv­al and was aired by three radio sta­tions in Ger­many and Switzerland.

At the moment Jan is writ­ing the script for a sci­ence-fic­tion-series, pre­par­ing his next exhib­i­tion in Ber­lin and tak­ing care about unhappy Sicht­beton all over Europe.