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Berlinale Bloggers 2018
Project Filmwanderungen

Film Walks
Film still: Pit Bredimus © Phenomen Berlin Filmproduktion

Between Ostalgia, gentrification and cosmopolitan reset: Filmwanderungen (“Film Ramblings”), a terrific neighbourhood interview project, looks at locals and local changes at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.

By Philipp Bühler

Berlin, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. This was never an ordinary neighbourhood. Now populated by tourists, artists and advertising people Berlin-Mitte has a lot to offer, but definitely not neighbourhood flair. After the Wall came down, the area around the Volksbühne gained fame as a hub of nightlife. Hidden clubs moved into vacant buildings, and clubbers entered the premises, as Tilman Rammstedt later wrote, “through the letterbox”. The clubs were soon supplanted by galleries. To this day it’s easier to find a flagship store around here than a greengrocer’s shop.

I lived here myself for a while in the late ’90s, and that’s why I’m so curious about the Filmwanderungen project, which shows this unusual hood in a different light. For they’re still here of course, the long-time residents and ordinary folks that go to form something like a neighbourhood together with international types from all over the world. This interview project brought them all together and proudly presented the results – no, not just at the Berlinale, but right on location! A most unusual event: the audience was divided up at the meeting point and led by volunteer guides to the flats where each particular interview had been shot. So you might walk into someone’s flat whom you’ve just seen interviewed on the TV screen in the flat opposite.

Come to my place! 

In 31 brief episodes – two are shown at each screening – you see Ossis and Wessis, i.e. East and West Germans, natives and newcomers, for whom Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is home or transit point. Some former citizens of the GDR appreciate the new international scene that has evolved here; others say “it isn’t Berlin anymore” or are afraid of the nightly hordes of tourists. Some non-German residents have experienced racism here, others have not. The founder of “East Berlin’s first sex shop”, who has since been driven out, waxes nostalgic about the good ole days before gentrification; in the same episode, a Swedish woman says she’s delighted about all the boutiques and cafés.
Home, identity, belonging, wall, work and dreams are the subjects the interviewees were asked about. And yet in this special, highly diverse cosmos, it’s actually all the same thing. The nicest thing for everyone involved in this model project was that it actually brought them all into contact. They know one another a little better now, what more could you ask.