My wife and I travelled 700km in our car with two boys and two dogs to meet John and his wife Hassina for the weekend, and seeing them again was worth the trip. That must say something about them.
I met John through mutual friend Trish McAdam when I made my move to Berlin back in 2002 and we became pals. They had both been part of the Nipkow project. John is a documentary maker and his wife Hassina is an artist. John is now teaching documentary filmmaking at the European Film College in Ebeltoft in Denmark. Aside from hanging out with them (and witnessing John's skill as a grillmeister) we also had the chance to look around the school and were mightily impressed. It is a wonderful early breeding ground for film talent and getting the opportunity to be a student there is surely an enviable experience. Two cinemas! Their own sound-proof studio! Editing and sound facilities! Conference and study rooms! Wireless internet access in their café! All a filmmaker's heart could desire and then some!
We also visited the old town of Ebeltoft itself and Claudia and her son Noam and his friend Louis enjoyed ice cream on a rainy Sunday night.
In his work, John's themes are often about belonging and identity. As someone who loves the world of film, he is also one of the regular hosts of D-Word, a forum for documentary filmmakers. He is tireless and always approachable, and a major asset to the college.
The main thing for Claudia and I, however, was to catch up with two people who were becoming friends of ours before they were moving away from Berlin - here they are at a small get-together in our garden before they left.
We want to to keep the friendship going - which hopefully means getting back to them and Ebeltoft every now and then as well as having them back in Berlin when they can spare the time.