DAAD Scholarship 1999–2000
He never managed to realise his dream of a career in professional football. However, Rouven Rech did manage to find another vocation about which he is no less enthusiastic. He makes documentary films. And the round leather ball still plays a role. For example, he filmed a report for Spiegel-TV on the hopes and careers of three former teammates. Goalkeeper Rech used to play in the same highly successful B-youth team at TuS Paderborn-Neuhaus. However, none of them eventually made the leap into professional football.
Although it was never my explicit wish to become a documentary filmmaker, I did gradually come to realise where my strengths and weaknesses lie.
"Anybody who's ever played at a relatively high level believes they can make it, but that dream's soon over," he says. Born in Bochum in the Ruhr in 1973, Rech is not saddened by the end to his sporting plans. "I soon developed an interest in making films," he says. That's why he decided to study media sciences at the "Film & Television Academy (HFF) Konrad Wolf" in Potsdam-Babelsberg. "Although it was never my explicit wish to become a documentary filmmaker, I did gradually come to realise where my strengths and weaknesses lie." He had a passion for non-fictional films.
During their studies, Rech and some fellow students organised the student film festival called SehSüchte. Rech looked after the Spanish-speaking visitors and made friends with a delegation from Argentina. "They thought I should come to Argentina some time to improve my Spanish," he says. Rech was persuaded. Equipped with a DAAD scholarship, he went to the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires from october 1999 to december 2000. Whilst there, he did some research for his Diplom thesis on Staats- und Ideologiekritik in Genredialektik und Themendiskurs des argentinischen Kinos während des ‚Proceso de Reorganización Nacional‘ (1976–1983). Later, he also transformed the topic into a film called Entrelineas. And he used his scholarship to kill two birds with one stone by shooting the interviews for the film.
After graduating with a Diplom degree, Rouven Rech decided to take a postgraduate course on documentary film at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy. To shoot his graduation film Vecinos (Neighbours) he returned to Argentina. It describes a gated community, behind which a rich, protected ghetto lives in northern Buenos Aires. The film visualised the social gap in Argentina and the social misery that followed the country's economic collapse.
In the meantime, Rech has established himself as a documentary filmmaker. Together with his colleague Frank Pfeiffer, he made a long-term documentary about TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, the football club that was promoted to the Bundesliga in 2008. The film shows the social impact of this success on the people of the small town. The full-length documentary Hoffenheim – Das Leben ist kein Heimspiel was a success, as was his film Union fürs Leben about the cult club 1st FC Union Berlin. Both films were shown in cinemas and at numerous festivals, before being broadcast on German television. However, football is not the only successful subject matter of the documentary filmmaker, who in 2005 became co-owner of the film and video production firm Torero Film GbR based in Berlin und Konstanz. In 2011 he received the prize for best documentary film at the 17th Filmschau Baden-Württemberg for Adopted – a documentary about the organisation of that name that brings together lonely European adults with African families.