Talking Money is an observational documentary shot at bank consultation tables all over the world. Weaving stories from eight countries into one global money conversation, it virtually transforms the cinema into a bank. Purely experiential! Who are we when we talk about money? Intimate conversations in an impersonal place: from Bolivia to Pakistan, Benin to Switzerland, men and women sit down across from their neighborhood bankers to discuss the intimacies of their financial lives. Far from the glamour of distant Wall Street, this is the reality of personal banking, where one’s life problems are a matter of business. In fifteen spontaneously recorded encounters, the bank table turns into a stage for confessions and masquerades, where consultants and clients try their best to look solid and trustworthy. Filming entirely from the bank’s side of the table, Sebastian Winkels offers the audience a place in a bizarre power play, exploring a complicated relation called ’money’. A multi-voiced comment on capitalism that reveals how the invisible power of money works on all of us, no matter who and where we are.
2017 DOK Leipzig, Visions du Réel, Nyon, Ciné Droit Libre, Burkina Faso 2018 Nonfiktionale: Winner Best Documentary and awarded by the Studentjury
Cast and Crew
Director Sebastian Winkels
Producer Susann Schmik
A few years ago, I had to go to the bank several times in a row. It became one of the strangest experiences in my life. Discussing personal matters with someone I hardly know felt weirdly wrong. I was expected to put my social and private being on the table and to translate my life into the language of finance and numbers.
An awkward closeness overshadowed the conversation that was held in a personal tone, yet all the while there wasn’t any trust at play. Our opposite agendas were just too obvious. The elusive language we both used, pretending to understand each other, was like one big blue elephant sitting right between us. Afterwards, out on the sidewalk, I felt so estranged from myself, as if I had been somebody else just a moment ago. It was a few days later that I decided to dedicate a film to this situation and the bizarre communication it entails. So I brought my camera into this impossible place to do a social recording of how we talk about money.
In approaching documentaries I was much influenced by Raymond Depardon, who I admire for stubbornly inventing new narratives and perspectives to explore “la condition humaine”. In my work I like to single out one aspect of communication and treat it within a certain cinematic perspective. For me, the physical screening room can be part of a film’s story as well. 7 Brothers and My Beautiful Life were already exploring this idea. With Talking Money I want to turn the actual space of the cinema into a bank consultation room with all its hauntingly false intimacy. In the frame of these strange encounters, I want to give room to the individual involvement and personal participation of the audience. To me, the most magical thing about documentary film is that each viewer can develop a special relationship with the person on screen. As if you were engaging in a real conversation with people you just met: you are listening and watching, guessing their intentions – and getting ready for your reply.