From Germany with love: One fan’s journey to the Hero Complex Film Festival

July 04, 2010 | 5:21 p.m.

Christopher Nolan Hero COmplex Film Festival 2010

I met a lot of people at the first-ever Hero Complex Film Festival last month, but one of the most memorable was Nico Rolke, a German film student who had jetted halfway around the globe to be at the event. I invited him to write about the experience, and he jumped at the chance. — Geoff Boucher  

Nico Rolke

When I told my friends and colleagues about my plan to fly to the Hero Complex Film Festival four weeks ago, the thing I heard the most was: “You are crazy!”

One of my friends said, “Let me get this straight, you’re flying to Los Angeles all by yourself in the middle of the semester, leaving all your work and projects behind, just to see two directors on a stage answering some questions?” I told him I had to go, since Scott and Nolan are my two favorite directors and the fact that they would be in one place in one weekend — well, I could not pass it up. Thinking about all of this while sitting on the plane to Los Angeles, I did start to get nervous for the first time. But I kept telling myself that I would regret it if I didn’t go and would never find out what this trip could have been like.

When I arrived at the Film Festival on Friday, I immediately got my entrance bracelet and entered the cinema and watched Star Trek IV. I quickly got very excited just sitting in the famous theaters above the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the first time, but then I really realized what I had made the long trip for when Leonard Nimoy entered the room, and people flipped over it. They applauded and screamed until he got seated and started answering the questions from the host, Geoff Boucher. Nimoy presented himself as relaxed and funny, and it was great to listen to him and the host. It put me in a very good mood, and I got even more excited for the second and third day with Nolan and Scott.

After the Q&A session, I got back to the main hall and started to wander a bit and was about to exit the cinema when I walked by a circle of people. I thought to myself: “Wait a minute, wasn’t that the host of the festival?” I returned and noticed that I had been right; Boucher and a group of people were chatting, and I decided it would be nice to join them. I talked to a guy who soon introduced himself as Eric Vespe, or Quint, and he told me about his website, Ain’t It Cool.

Hero Complex Film Festival lobby 2010


After a bit, Geoff said to the group: “Why don’t we go upstairs?” Everyone agreed and followed him. It turned out that they were heading to the VIP section of the event. Thank God we were such a big group of people, and the bouncer didn’t realized that I had no VIP bracelet! So I entered the VIP Lounge with them and immediately felt another wave of excitement. It was a nice room with its own bar, and it was decorated with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and George Lucas and other during their visits to the Chinese Theatre. People started talking about how great the evening went, and I listened to their conversations.

Ridley Scott Hero Complex Film Festival 2010

I was so afraid to be kicked out of the section if someone realized who I was that I barely talked and tried to be as invisible as possible.  Of course, someone recognized that I was there after a while. It was Geoff Boucher, so he came over and asked: “Well, who are you?”

I told him: “Basically, I am a film student from Germany…” I began to tell him my story: I had found out about the film festival from a girl who was trying to show me that Twitter can be useful to find things you’re interested in. She told me to come up with something I wanted to find out more about and I said: “Christopher Nolan.” She typed in his name, and we found the tweet of a guy who was talking about the Hero Complex Film Festival. Once I read it, I immediately bought a ticket and booked a flight.

Boucher seemed confused. “Wait, so you came all the way from Germany for the film festival?” He seemed impressed, and one of his friends joked, “Geoff you didn’t know you had fans in Germany!” Boucher introduced me to people around the room like Los Angeles Times entertainment editor Rich Nordwind and comic-book writer Ed Brubaker and his wife, Melanie Tomlin, “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola and his wife Christine Mignola, and writer Leo Partible and his wife, Lori Wahlers. I talked to them for a while and had to retell my story until people started to leave. Before I could go, Boucher came to me and said: “Why don’t you come back here tomorrow and if I can I will introduce you to Chris Nolan.” I gasped and said: “Sure, that would be more than nice!” I thanked him and left, but I didn’t really have high hopes. I thought that he maybe just said that to be nice and would probably not even remember me on the next day. Well, I was wrong.

Hero Complex Film Festival 2010 vip


The next day, I went to the VIP Lounge and a bouncer stopped me and said that I didn’t have the right bracelet. I almost returned, but Leo and Lori saw me and told me to wait; they went and got Geoff, who came out, pointed to me and told the bouncer: “That guy is in!” I was stunned. I went inside and had a great time talking to the same people and meeting new ones, like Noel Clarke, an actor from the “Doctor Who” series, [and] Mark Tonderai, the director of “Hush“; he told me about his movie and that he had seen a private screening of “Inception” and how good it was. When Nolan suddenly arrived, just five minutes before his appearance, everyone stopped talking immediately, and the room became totally quiet. I was silent myself — I was shocked to see him in person. Christopher Nolan was standing there just a few feet away from me. He talked to Geoff for a while and then seemed ready to go onstage. Everyone was standing there looking at him ready to shake his hand.

I felt kind of stupid surrounded by all these people who were much more important than I am, so I stepped back. But Geoff nearly pushed them aside when he lead Nolan to me and said: “Chris, you have to meet this guy, he just came from Germany to see you.” The director looked at me and seemed quite interested. “Oh, really?” I was speechless and nervously shook his hand. I had a million questions, but all I could do was stare at him and say that I was honored. He continued on his way, shaking the hand of everyone. I followed him with everyone else to the high entrance of the cinema and was standing directly behind him when the trailer of “Inception” was shown and everyone screamed. It was an unforgettable and magic feeling.

Hero Complex Film Festival 2010 vip


The Q&A session was great. Nolan managed to show the right amount of teaching and personal opinion, in my point of view. It was interesting and informative at the same time. But I guess even if he would have done a bad interview, I would have loved it. After it, I returned to the lounge before I headed back. 

The third day went down as great as the first two. I waited in the VIP area for Ridley Scott, and when he arrived everyone got quiet, just like the day before.  I followed every one of his steps with my eyes. He is a legend to me, and I wanted to see him as much as I could. Again, I got really nervous being so near to one of my role models, so I was thankful that Geoff helped me again and introduced me to him! “It is an honor to meet you Mr. Scott,” I stumbled.

He asked: “So you are from Bavaria Film [Studios] in Germany?” I almost laughed. “No, no I am just a regular film student.” “Well then, a pleasure to meet you, thanks for coming here!” Again, I was speechless and almost gasped. I know that he was just being nice to me, but Ridley Scott standing in front of me saying that it was a pleasure to meet me — I can’t put in words how I felt at that moment. Someone behind me said, “You just met Ridley Scott!” and patted me on the shoulder.

Geoff boucher and ridley scott at the hero complex film festival 2010

We entered the cinema and the Q&A session was as great as the others. Scott was surprisingly open and talked about a possible “Robin Hood” sequel and that he wanted to do a Western in future. When it was over, I returned to the VIP section and started thanking everyone for giving me such a mind-blowing experience, especially Geoff, of course. I collected a lot of cards and contacts, and Leo invited me to the Comic Book Sunday, which turned out to be a great experience as well. I also visited the L.A. Film Festival, where I went to a poolside chat and saw a few independent movies.

All in all, I have to say that this trip couldn’t have turned out any better for me and that I’m very thankful for everything that happened to me. So thank you to Geoff for your Hero Complex and for bringing me a step closer to my dream! I know I will be at the festival again next year.  (You can read the full story of my trip soon on my new site.)

— Nico Rolke



Ridley Scott wants to make two ‘Alien’ prequels

Ridley Scott: ‘Blade Runner’ echoes in ‘a very special way’

Leonard Nimoy’s farewell: ‘Live long and prosper, my friends’

Christopher Nolan has a dim view of 3-D 

Nimoy riffs on Shatner, ‘Star Wars’ and … Jimi Hendrix?

Leonard Nimoy: ‘Trek’ fans can be scary

Hero Complex Film Festival covered far and wide

The greatest heroine in sci-fi? Ripley, believe it or not

Ridley Scott rolls dice on ‘Monopoly’

Photos, from top: Christopher Nolan at the 2010 Hero Complex Film Festival. From left, Melanie Tomlin, Nico Rolke, Lori Wahlers and Leo Partible. Mark Tonderai, Ed Brubaker and Noel Clarke. Geoff Boucher interviews filmmaker Ridley Scott on stage. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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72 Responses to From Germany with love: One fan’s journey to the Hero Complex Film Festival

  1. Fan says:

    This is a great story. Thanks for posting it. It's always funny how down to earth some Hollywood types are, once you meet them. They're human beings, after all. :)

  2. mangababe says:

    Now you'll have stories to tell for years! Thanks for sharing them.
    And thanks to Geoff for going out of your way to make the trip special for such a devoted film student/fan.

  3. Dude, this is the coolest story! The internet is the greatest thing ever.

  4. Johannes says:

    To be honest – when I first heard your story, I wasn't quite sure about how much was made up and what actually happened. Unbelievable story!

  5. Manuel Dahme says:

    Mann Nico, was hast du denn dort erlebt?! War ja wirklich die richtige Entscheidung nach LA zu fliegen. Weiß immer noch nicht wie du ein komplettes Semester in 2 Monaten abgehakt hast…
    Ruf dich nachher mal an.

  6. TtotheS says:

    Hey i know this guy, cool story.
    it's Impressive.

  7. Diana says:

    Great Story!

  8. Matze Weh says:

    Reeespekt Nico!
    Sounds like an awesome time :D

  9. Louisa Trübner says:

    Der Johannes hats mir erzählt -völlig verrückt. Ich hoffe es klappt! Ich drück dir die Daumen.

  10. Max says:

    This story is completely unbelievable and completely awesome at the same time ! I really enjoyed this article. Thanks fpr posting! :)

  11. sarah j. says:

    alles was ich dazu sagen kann ist:

  12. Moritz says:

    Mega gut, alter!

  13. Mex says:

    Mein Neid ist mit dir :P

  14. Lydia says:

    I am that girl who showed this awesome guy, that twitter CAN be useful! ;) <3

  15. der Bang says:

    Good Boy!
    Another spectacular proof for "wer nicht wagt, der nicht gewinnt"
    Grüße von nebenan!

  16. Sarah says:

    Wow, this is a great story and very interesting to read. With this story you probably encourage other people, to just take a trip around the globe, to fulfill their dreams. Just awesome!

  17. Fred says:

    Unglaublich in L.A werden immer noch Träume wahr!
    Coole Sache
    Ubelievable dreams still com true in L. A.!
    Nice story
    keep going!!!

  18. Joris says:

    Wirklich hammergeile Story! Den American Dream gibts anscheinend doch nicht nur im Kino ;)

  19. Patrick says:

    wow Iam enjoying this article.
    Germany -> all the way ;).
    You got my +1 Nico !

  20. Daniel says:

    Hey that's a great story!

  21. Bekhazi Michel says:

    Amazing story, thank You for sharing. I guess you do not need any Hero Complex, you are bound to be a hero of your own.

  22. wayne beamer says:

    Hey Geoff,
    What a cool thing you did for Nico! I'm gonna have to find you at Comic-Con just to shake your hand. Are you gonna be doing panels at the show or "just" reporting? Again, many thanks to you and Nico… Wayne

  23. tolij says:

    Tut mir leid – nichts weiter. Einfach pure awesomeness.

  24. Jenny K. says:

    Was kann man da noch sagen, außer: Wow! Respekt!
    Super Story!

  25. Emanuel B. says:

    wie gut!!!! :D

  26. Joelle says:

    Heeeeey Nico, das ist ja der Wahnsinn. Super Story, die du da geschrieben hast und ich freu mich so für dich. Das muss echt ne suuuuuper Erfahrung für dich gewesen sein. Dann war ja der Fernseher doch für was gut :-) Also drück dir die Daumen und grüße dich ganz lieb.

  27. Nina says:

    Großartige Story und viel Erfolg in der Zukunft!
    it's awesome XD

  28. Lydia R says:

    What you did was amazing, I couldn't help but read the story a few times. And I'm proud of you :)

  29. Merit says:

    So muss das sein, Nico!! Sehr beeindruckend, deine Geschichte, die du wohl für den Rest deines Lebens nicht mehr vergessen wirst!
    Ich gönne es dir!
    Bis bald in deinem "normalen" Leben :)

  30. Johannes Hensel says:

    niggo stile, so wie ich ihn kenne! …obwohl er sich hier bei wohl selbst übertroffen hat.

  31. Bora_schnell says:

    Glad to hear that selling your couch and TV has been worth it ;) Here is to having a great time and an awesome trip!! Cheers!

  32. tinkerbell says:

    This story is almost unbelievable. Wow. It's great that you could experience something like that.

  33. Nico Rolke says:

    Well I only sold my TV, not my couch, to finance it. But I guess i would have sold everything to experience something like this :D
    Nico Rolke

  34. MinB says:

    That was great! Thankyou

  35. Svenja says:

    Wow. Tolle Geschichte, unglaublich, dass sowas WIRKLICH passiert :)

  36. Januschka says:

    Great Story! Thanks for sharing this incredible moment in your life!

  37. sarah says:

    Great story! Even if I don't really know, who all those people are (except Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan), I can imagine the feeling of meeting a role model.

  38. Maddy says:


  39. Anonym says:

    wow, the story is really unbeliveable O.o
    ..but great :)

  40. Ronja says:

    Wirklich schöne Story. Schön, dass du Spaß hattest. Ich bin durch Lydias Blog hier rauf gestoßen und mein Kommentar soll als kleine Unterstützung gelten :) Viel Spaß im nächsten Jahr!

  41. Meli says:

    Great Story!

  42. Lisa says:

    Toller Artikel!

  43. lisa says:

    tolle geschichte :)

  44. Lena says:

    Great story!
    Tolle Geschichte, man, was würd' ich für solch ein Erlebnis geben!
    Weiterhin alles Gute,

  45. Anne says:

    Great Article!

  46. Julischka says:

    sehr lustig zu lesen.

  47. nico says:

    great story. hope it continues…

  48. another fan says:

    Verrückt! Richtig klasse dass du einfach so geflogen bist, das nenne ich mal SPONTAN!
    Viel Erfolg beim Studium!

  49. Mona says:

    wow, toll, dass du so ein Glück hattest, dass du das alles miterlebt hast :)
    Außerdem ein echt gut gelungener Artikel, ich hätte das nicht alles in so einem perfekten Englisch hinschreiben können :D
    Wow, great, that you had so much luck, to witness that all :)
    A excellent article, I would not can (??) write that all in such a perfect english :D
    (as you see ;) )

  50. Joy says:

    Found this on the blog of your friend, Lydia.
    Great story, very authentic, like it a lot my friend!
    Greets, Joy

  51. esther says:

    wow, verdammt cool! :)

  52. Lina says:

    Wow! This is a grat Story… Just awesome!

  53. Oogaboogie says:

    Awesome story, I can't imagine how much this must have meant to you and how you must have felt standing eye-to-eye to some of the great names of Hollywood…
    Best of luck to you

  54. Jennifer says:

    Wow! Sehr guter Artikel Nico! =)
    Spannend was du so alles erlebst! *g*

  55. Tanja says:

    coole geschichte nico, die ABS als sprungbrett zur internationalen karriere. nicht schlecht :)

  56. Jones says:

    ziemlich krass! wird man schon etwas neidisch… ;)
    vg jones

  57. Sabrina says:

    great story!

  58. Katharina says:

    Great article, very interesting to read :) !

  59. Nicole says:

    Als wäre das Erleben nicht schon großartig genug, durftest Du es auch noch auf L.A. Times veröffentlichen. Großartig. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

  60. Berlinerin says:

    Such a great story!
    I feel so happy after reading it!!!

  61. V. says:

    How cool is that?
    Damn, you're such a lucky guy. All the memories, wow, your great grand children will be very happy to hear them…

  62. Nathalie says:

    what an interesting story! and what an interesting experience!

  63. jana says:

    it sounds so good!

  64. Friedafee says:

    NEIDISCH… so sehr :)

  65. Alex says:

    Fette story!
    Thank you for sharing this! What a great story..

  66. theFacebookTeddy says:

    :) this story really does sound like a typical hollywood movie! Nice to know that some dreams do come true!

  67. Fritz says:

    Oh mann, So was kann auch echt nur dir passieren ;)

  68. Lora says:

    Sounds like a great, memorable time! Amazing achievement! Congrats!

  69. Jessica says:

    Hey Nico awesome Story!!!!
    Mach weiter so

  70. janaumann says:

    Klasse Sache Nico,
    gefällt mer!

  71. Paul says:

    haha sehr gutes ding. da hat ers halt gerissen

  72. bitcoin says:

    Genuinely no matter if someone doesn’t know

    afterward its up to other people that they will assist, so here it takes place.

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