WHO IS THOMAS MÜLLER?
Christian Heynen (born 1973), MA of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, has been working for more than 12 years as a freelance journalist, author and documentary filmmaker in Europe, Asia, and America. His focus lies in international co-produced documentaries for Primetime (ARD, ARTE, Discovery Channel, History Channel, Ki.Ka, NDR, Phoenix, RBB, WDR, ZDF, ZDF NEO, ZDF Enterprises, 3SAT), as well as for cinema Kino (Astra Film Festival, Cologne Conference, Max Ophüls Festival, Trento Bergfilmfestival, Zurich Filmfestival). If time permits, he writes nonfiction, screenplays and articles for print media (Süddeutsche Zeitung , Rheinische Post, Mare).
WHO IS THOMAS MÜLLER? is a feature documentary and a transmedia project by Christian Heynen. Through the means of cinema, television and internet, this documentary is searching for the real face behind Germany’s most common name “Thomas Müller”. His journey takes Heynen through the whole country, while (almost) all of his interviewees are called “Thomas Müller”.
The film team begins its expedition at the centre of all things data, the Federal Statistical Office. As statistically calculated, Thomas Müller is the most common name among Germany’s 81 million citizens - more than 50,000 people share it. But can an accumulation of the Germans’ common attributes get us any closer to the truth, or are we just looking at the lowest common denominator? How come Thomas Müller is a symbol for excruciating boredom and mediocrity, while at the same time his opinion has more weight in politics and economical questions than the opinions of the German chancellor and a bank director combined? As it turns out, none of the numerous Thomas Müllers the film team meets, is precisely that average German, whose existence the numbers have suggested.
But WHO is this mysterious "Thomas Müller" then, who apparently represents all German men and WHAT does the rest of the world think about the Germans? Heynen decided to ask the Thomas Müllers to break it down for him. So a whole lot of Thomas Müllers from all walks of life speak about German society and its characteristics. Christian Heynen meets his protagonists at diverse places - the stock market, the military, prison and in diverse professions: comedian, priest, caterer, musician and (of course) professional football player. At the former German Bundestag in Bonn he meets a man who would love to be the average Thomas Müller.
WHO IS THOMAS MÜLLER? is a sort of documentary road movie, interspersed with animation, collage and graphics that shine a light on the often comical and bizarre facts Christian Heynen stumbles across in his search for the right answer. The audience is able to participate in Heynen’s journey and to enrich the image of the real Thomas Müller through their own experiences and knowledge. They also get their say about Thomas’ wife and his son – statistically called Sabine Müller and Jan Müller.
Heynen’s journey is a funny but nevertheless complex study on questions of identity, cultural expectations and stereotypes, crisscrossing the whole country. It revolves around the big question: is our belief in numbers justified or do they throw us a red herring? What does the life behind the data look like? Is there really something specifically German about it, or is Germanness just a statistical mirage, an accumulation of coincidences without any deeper meaning?
Dr. Katja Wildermuth