Caught between the opposite sides of the same medal
A film about the rise and fall of the fur trade, seen through the eyes of men deeply involved in this old, double-edged business. The story tells how they leave the tragedies of the Second World War behind and make Frankfurt am Main the largest fur market in the world. But in the 1960s during the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, their fate turns when the bloody seal hunt suddenly casts its shadow over them. A journey into ostracism begins, at the end of which their craft disappears and they once again become outsiders.
Three fur traders make a career in a time when fur is a cult object and almost all women want to wear fur. They are among the most important players when the lucrative market for luxury articles turns into an unleashed mass production. But behind their rise is the globalization of the world, the relocation of the entire Leipzig fur industry to Frankfurt, and the energy of thousands of Greek fur workers who revolutionize sewing technology with their “golden fingers”.
At the height of their success in December 1963, the first Frankfurt Auschwitz trial begins just a stone’s throw from the fur district. The originally Jewish-dominated industry is offered a moral compensation. But instead, the accusation of “having been skinned alive” overruns the fur market. “Inhuman sealers”, are said to “skin baby seals alive” on the Magdalen Islands off Canada. The fur industry in Frankfurt, the main buyer of the furs, is being pilloried. Only a few weeks later, Nazis compare seals with the victims of the Holocaust and their hunters with the perpetrators for the first time. Brutal images and calls for boycotts by celebrities unleash the global anti-fur movement. The contradiction between beauty and death, which is inherent in the fur trade by nature, takes its revenge. But instead of opening itself to the arguments of animal protection, the fallow relies on dumping prices and thus carries the murderous stigma into the wider society. A long journey into ostracism begins.
The protagonists are tragic figures who repeatedly transform suffering and death into beauty. They clothe a people with furs, who have done them a disservice. Many of them are victims of the Nazis and are at the same time denounced as animal murderers. In the end, they perish with their “inhuman” furs, while many Auschwitz perpetrators get off scot-free.
Nobody can get out of their skin, we say. But what if you put on a new one? Not only fur can be cut together as a second skin, just everything: past, success, lies, happiness. The world judges by appearances, says Goethe. Fur is an archetype of this hiding game of surface and underground, life and death. He is a beauty on whose back death resides. A symbol of repression. This is what the subtext of the film is about, about striving to make things look the way you want them to look and to do so by always looking at only one side of the coin.
The film has received several grants from the Hessische Filmförderung. Shooting is scheduled to start in early 2020.
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