Uli Gaulke was born in Schwerin in 1968, spending his childhood and adolescence in East Germany where Soviet Communism prevailed. During the grey school days, he had chances to expose himself to different ways of thinking as his mother often took him to the theatre to enjoy controversial productions. He also played the trumpet for his school and the party but gave it up due to the tiredness of the propaganda. In 1987, he was assigned to be an army projectionist for National People’s Army. The experience was horrible yet he discovered films during the national services.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall gave him the freedom to do whatever he wanted. In 1989, he moved to Berlin and received higher education on Physics, Theatre Science and Film Directing. At the same time, he continued to work as a projectionist in order to make a living. It was the nurture in the cinemas provided all the important lessons about film to him – watching films and studying audiences. He came to understand the actions and juxtapositions that moved viewers, the scenes that brought them to laughter or tears. Even now, he thinks of the viewers when he is lining up a shot or cutting a scene.
Uli’s passion for films may have come late but it came from the heart with real intensity. As he said, he became a documentary filmmaker because of his interest in people and the love of the “real” moment. His works not only embody the collision of socialism and capitalism but also cross cultural lines by understanding individuals: a journey into Uli’s own past in socialist years, HAVANNA, MI AMOR (2000), a tribute to projectionists in remote corners of the world, COMRADES IN DREAMS (2007), fascinating life stories of six musicians from the oldest jazz band, AS TIME GOES BY IN SHANGHAI (2013).