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After completing mandatory community service and beginning the study of forestry at the University of Munich, Jens Schanze worked for a TV production company in Bavaria. He shot his first film in Bolivia for the environmental foundation „Conservation International“. In 1995, he enrolled at the University of Television and Film (HFF) in Munich, majoring in documentary filming. Aside from several short films, he shot „Das kleine Kaufhaus“, a film about a women's clothing store in Munich, in 1999.
His first full-length documentary „Otzenrather Sprung“ saw him collaborating with the cameraman Börres Weiffenbach and was awarded the Adolf Grimme Award in 2002.
He founded „Mascha Film“ together with Judith Malek-Mahdavi in 2002 and released the film „Brot und Töne“, about a symphony orchestra holding 60 unemployed musicians. Schanze was awarded the Starter Film Award by the City of Munich in 2004.
„Winterkinder – Die schweigende Generation“ (Winterchildren - The Silent Generation) brought forth yet another collaboration with Weiffenbach and saw Schanze explore his grandfather's ties to the Nazis and how his family dealt with the national-socialist past of their relatives and ancestors by interviewing members of his family himself.
His recent effort „Plug & Pray“ revolves around the possibilities and consequences of computer technology and artificial intelligence and was awarded the Bavarian Film Award in 2010.
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