Karl Baumgartner was born in 1949 in the South Tyrol town of Brunico. His film career began in the late sixties in Rome, where he worked as assistant director and a film critic. In 1971, along with Reinhard Brunding, he founded the famous Harmonie cinema in Frankfurt, with a repertoire dedicated to art-house films. The same duo founded the Pandora film distribution company in 1981, offering the European audience films by authors such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Jean-Luc Godard, Mike Leigh, Wim Wenders, Akira Kurosawa, Aki Kaurismäki, Kim Ki-duk, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Takeshi Kitano, Emir Kusturica, Jane Campion, etc.
As a producer, he worked with authors of recognizable cinematic expression. He collaborated with some of the most important directors of our time – Emir Kusturica, Kim Ki-Duk and Aki Kaurismäki. One of the first film produced by Pandora film was Emir Kusturica’s Underground, which won Palme d’Or in Cannes.At the same time, he also worked with debutants and young, unrecognized authors and was particularly interested in the Eastern European cinema. All films produced by Pandora are of international co-production and are distributed to cinemas.
Baumgartner has been a guest of the Küstendorf International Film and Music Festival twice. He was a member of the jury and held a workshop for the students at Küstendorf 2009. On this occasion, Emir Kusturica announced him as ”a rare species” in the world of producers and said: “Unlike the people who care only about how to get money, and even more so about how to get a return on investment, Baumi shares the life and fate of film.” His filmography includes sixty-six live action films, seven documentaries and one animated feature film. The films he produced won numerous awards at international film festivals. Karl Baumgartner was a member of the German Film Academy, the European Film Academy and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.
He died in his home in Frankfurt on 18 March 2014.