Trading Stories. A Cargo Named Desire.

This film does not tell a love story, rather it tells a story, or several, about telling stories and about love. Love is surgically removed from the story, which turns out to have no end, because there are only beginnings and endings when it comes to stories, but not when in comes to a history. This endlessness of history is what Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and later René Pollesch called "spurious infinity", and it must be distinguished (for example) from art. In this case, art is a film bearing the title Trading Stories and it is by Jennifer Mattes.

A long time ago somebody embarked on a long journey, the great-grandfather of the director. Some records of the trip survived, supposedly only concerned with the most significant matters – but this is exactly why the interest of the reader was not captivated. So the reader and great-granddaughter boards a cargo ship in 2013 to follow in the footsteps of her great-grandfather. She is especially focused on observing what is insignificant and contemplating romantic love among other things, which was supposedly invented in 12th century Provence. Her journey leads from Hamburg through Antwerp to the Suez Canal, Sri Lanka and Singapore, all the way to Qingdao in China. Little is seen of all this. Mainly the cargo ship is seen, carrying the weight of the history, of the story and also of love – this is what constitutes its cargo. But this film is not romantic – romance, according to Mattes, results from a deficit of knowledge. Among other things, Trading Stories is about the genesis of this knowledge. "Whoever remains romantic despite having learned something new becomes a monster. And whoever doesn´t learn otherwise will become a fool." The work on the story and on love is also work on the failure of this fool and monster. This is demonstrated by Trading Stories in such a funny, wonderful, melancholy and intelligent way that you want romantic love to be over with once and for all, but in no way do you want the film to come to an end. (Constanze Ruhm)

Translation: Eve Heller

Orig. Title
Trading Stories. A Cargo Named Desire.
42 min
Jennifer Mattes
Orig. Language
german, english
Jennifer Mattes
Jennifer Mattes
Konstantin Haas, Jennifer Mattes
Jennifer Mattes
Ana Kovacko
Supported by
Xiaochu Zhu, NSB Niederelbe Schiffahrtsgesellschaft, Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Color Format
Digital File (prores, h264)