By Germaine Deagan Sweet
Upon learning the shocking news of Astrid’s death, an industry colleague said to me that he didn’t realise how much of a friend Astrid had become over the years. But that was the thing about Astrid, she made you a friend before you knew it.
I first met Astrid 10 years ago when she joined N24 as a buyer and I was managing National Geographic’s distribution unit.
Our breakfast meetings in Cannes at her favourite café started with a rundown of her activities that morning prior to breakfast. Astrid was always on the move, either taking an early morning swim in the ocean, or walking the farmers market. Her energy was as inexhaustible as her thoughtfulness.
Astrid enjoyed indulging her friends, one of the more memorable indulgences being the 3 loaves of bread she had delivered to the hotel room of a distributor visiting Berlin because she knew how much he liked it. She always sent me home with beautifully packaged treats for my husband, whom she remembered shared her sweet tooth for anything chocolate.
As a business partner, Astrid was engaged and honest, some would say direct but always courteous. Contract negotiations could be tough but usually concluded with her unmistakable laughter echoing down the phone line.
Curious and incredibly smart, conversations with Astrid were never dull as they would start in English, occasionally slip into her flawless French and sometimes finish in German, in her never-ending search across her multiple languages to find just the right word.
We were planning a dinner for Sunnyside; crevettes and rose. This limited menu meal would be a repeat of the Monday night group dinner she would arrange at MIPCOM. It had become a tradition many of us looked forward to – a mix of Astrid’s friends and business partners. Because that’s what we were, sometimes without realizing it – business partners who became Astrid’s friends. So, with a glass of chilled rose, I’ll toast Astrid Steinmeyer, the well-respected leader from the German documentary market, and very dear much-loved friend.
Germaine Deagan Sweet is Managing Director Coproductions, PBS International