Christian Schwochow – A Retrospective
in Chennai International Film Festival 2017
in cooperation with Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation
Christian Schwochow was born in Bergen on the Island of Rügen and grew up in Berlin, Leipzig and Hannover. He is the son of the journalist Heide Schwochow. Both parents were busy with DDR broadcasting and made children's radio plays, his uncle Siegfried Hartmann staged children's films at the DEFA. "Our home was always about stories, I had a very creative environment, so early on I started drawing, making music and taking pictures," said Schwochow. Since his parents belonged to the opposition movement, as a child he was "also strongly politicized".
Bornholmer Straße(Bornholmer Straße)
88 min., 2014
9 November, 1989: At the Bornholmer Straße border checkpoint in Berlin, GDR soldiers and customs officers are shocked by an announcement made by Günter Schabowski, member of the Central Committee of the Politburo of the SED, as he reveals in a press conference, broadcast live on television, that all East German citizens will be allowed to cross into the West. Many people are caught up in the euphoria – and not realising that they still require a passport and visa, head straight to their nearest checkpoint. Lieutenant Colonel Schäfer and his men still haven’t realised what will be in store for them later that evening. It ends with the border being opened – the beginning of the end for the GDR. BORNHOLMER STRASSE is a magnificently ironic and astonishingly moving comedy about hope meeting despair and heroes who have no desire to be such.
Cracks in the Shell (Die Unsichtbare)
113 min., 2011
Fine Lorenz, a drama student, dreams of a stage career. Given the fact that she’s a wallflower, she would not have stood a chance, had Kaspar Friedmann not taken notice of her. Perhaps this is exactly what the prominent director liked about her: Fine is a blank slate, malleable and willing to change her identity for a big role, and thus sacrifice her own personality. Under the director's pressure, the more willing Fine is to identify with her character, the riskier the game becomes. Her self-abandonment brings the young actress close to the brink of disaster.
102 min., 2013
The summer of 1978: Nelly Senff, a postgraduate chemist, and her son Alexej relocate from East to West Berlin. A feigned marriage to a West German has made the move possible. After the death of Nelly's boyfriend and Alexej's father, she hopes to start a new life in the West. But first, the two end up in a refugee centre, and the German bureaucracy, with its string of questionnaires, is not the only thing that racks their nerves. The Secret Service, and most of all the CIA, are very interested in the reasons for Nelly's exit from East Berlin – and even more so in her presumed dead boyfriend Wassilij, who may be operating as an agent on both fronts. To secure a future, the woman must first put the past behind her.
The tower (Der Turm)
2 x 90 min., colour, 2012
A family saga set during the final years of the GDR. Surgeon Richard Hoffmann may have come to an opportunistic arrangement with the system a long time ago, but his way of life enables state security officials to blackmail him. Richard’s son Christian manages to pass his final secondary school exams despite a number of conflicts and goes through a tough and eventful time after joining the National People’s Army. His uncle Meno is an editor and struggles, at times only half-heartedly, against the parameters set by state censorship. The fall of the Wall in November 1989 seems to be felt as a salvation by the protagonists. The adaptation of Uwe Tellkamp’s novel of the same name does away with the epic scope of the written original, but was considered one of the best things to come out of German TV in 2012.
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