Made only shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Petra Tschörtner's lively docuemntary captures the mood in the famous Berlin neighbourhood where the director collects contrasting reactions to the historic event from a diverse group of people. What she finds are feelings ranging from joy, to indifference and to anxiety about the future.
With an introduction by Helen Huges, University of Surrey.
The documentary’s logline, “encounters between 1st of May and 1st of July 1990”, is bracketed chronologically by International Workers Day and the monetary and economic unification of the two Germanys. We meet a rock band playing on abandoned East German border territory, Antifa demonstrators from both sides of the Berlin Wall, and squatters trying to turn an occupied building into a cultural centre. The Prenzlauer Berg district in the former East Berlin was a particularly intense example of the “short summer of anarchy” on the heels of the fall of the Wall. This merry, teary swan song is a pastiche of dancing seniors, revelling bohemians, transvestites from the West, and Balkan musicians. On a more serious note, we hear from women in positions of responsibility – workers at a state-run textile factory, as well as the owner of a clothing store fear for their financial future, while the lady boss at Konnopke’s snack bar eagerly accepts her first payment in West German marks … Director Petra Tschörtner says, “I wanted to document the special attitude towards life in this neighbourhood. The people of Prenzlauer Berg have always tolerated greater freedom of action than others”. (Berlinale)
Berlin Prenzlauer Berg – Encounters between 1st of May and 1st of July 1990 (Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg - Begegnungen zwischen dem 1. Mai und dem 1. Juli 1990)
GDR 1990, b/w, DCP (35mm), 78 mins. With English subtitles.
Directed by Petra Tschörtner, Screenplay: Petra Tschörtner, Jochen Wisotzki, Director of Photography: Michael Lösche, Editing: Angelika Arnold, Sound: Uve Haußig, Ulrich Fengler, Producer: Fritz Hartthaler.
Helen Hughes teaches film studies at the University of Surrey. She has published a number of journal articles and chapters on German-language cinema as well as the book Green Documentary. She is currently finishing a book with the title Radioactive Documentary: Filming the nuclear environment after the Cold War.
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