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PRICE OUT MY BODY! THE HUMAN BEING AS RAW MATERIAL AND COMMODITY (WAS BIN ICH WERT? DER MENSCH ALS ROHSTOFF UND WARE)

PRICE OUT MY BODY! THE HUMAN BEING AS RAW MATERIAL AND COMMODITY
photo © Bildersturm Filmproduktion

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2012

Can a price be put on human life? The answer would seem to be “no”: a human being is priceless, his worth cannot be determined in terms of money. The very idea appears to violate the principle of human dignity. And yet determining the concrete value of a person is exactly what innumerable experts worldwide are engaged in: healthcare economists, insurance brokers, doctors, politicians. Their calculations affect traffic accident victims and fallen soldiers; they play a role in developing environmental and disaster plans and in measuring the “human capital” of a business; and they determine the prices paid for hostages, sex slaves and surrogate mothers.

“What am I worth?” This concrete, almost naive question is the film’s starting point. Filmmaker Peter Scharf, who received the PUK Journalist Prize for his previous documentary THE RAGE OF IMAGES - OLIVIERO TOSCANI, asks it both of himself and of his protagonists throughout the world. And he discovers the most astonishing schemes for measuring human value.

What criteria do people like Kenneth Feinberg, a US government compensation specialist, use to determine the amount to be paid out to the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks? Why is the life of a firefighter who died a hero in the Twin Towers worth on average a million euros less than that of a dead stockbroker?

Why might it be “uneconomical”, following the calculations of Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of the National Institute for Health in London, to put an elderly man on dialysis? At what point does each of us become a write-off?

In a series of episodes that gradually interweave with each other, the film by Cologne-based Bildersturm Filmproduktion pursues the issue of what it means to buy and sell human beings like any other commodity. The audience is led into a world where the monetary calculation of human worth has long since become business as usual. The insights provided are as shocking as they are revealing; cruelty meets and mixes with absurdity and even dissolves at times into high comedy.

MB
Genre Road Movie, Human Interest
Category Documentary
Director Peter Scharf
Screenplay Peter Scharf, Jörn Klare
Cinematography Oliver Schwabe
Producer Birgit Schulz
Production Company Bildersturm Filmproduktion, in co-production with ZDF, 3sat/Mainz, WDR
Original Version
 German, English
Shooting Dates February-October 2012
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM, German Federal Film Fund, German Federal Film Board
German Distributor W-film Distribution

Contact
Bildersturm Filmproduktion GmbH
Monika Mack
Bismarckstrasse 34
50672 Cologne/Germany
phone +49-2 21-2 58 57 00
fax +49-2 21-2 58 57 02
info@bildersturm-film.de
http://www.bildersturm-film.de