Tag Archives: Documentary

Sunday Documentary: Speaking Gardens

Speaking Gardens

Photo: Teresa Beck and René Reichelt

Exploring the concept of urban gardening in Berlin, the documentary film, Speaking Gardens by Teresa Beck and René Reichelt shows the different ways Berliners are finding to use or create green spaces in the city.

Speaking Gardens introduces six different urban gardening projects across Berlin:

In conversation with participants in each of the featured projects, diversity is a word that comes up often.  As do the benefits for children of growing up in an environment where they see their food being grown, which in turn feeds into a desire amongst people to know where their food comes from and favouring local produce.

In German with English subtitles, Speaking Gardens, is an educational and absorbing documentary that successfully conveys the multiculturalism and community feel of urban gardening projects in Berlin.

Speaking Gardens – The Berlin urban gardening movement

Sunday Documentary: Worldwide Berlin

A Llama in Centro Berlin from Worldwide Berlin by Berlin Producers

Photo: Centro Berlin, Bolivia courtesy of Berlin Producers

Given its turbulent history and key role in the politics of twentieth century Europe it’s no surprise that when you say ‘Berlin’ to most people, they will think of the German capital. However, there are more than 100 Berlins around the world.  Telling a day in the life of six of those Berlins, Worldwide Berlin is a documentary from Berlin Producers, made with the support of mbb, in cooperation with RBB and Deutsche Welle.

The documentary starts in Berlin, Germany at 6am as Uwe cleans the streets around Brandenburger Tor.  From there we travel to Berlin, Russia, a small village on the Kazakhstan border; a small fishing village named Berlinhafen (Berlin Harbour) in Papua New Guinea; Berlin, El Salvador, where we witness the preparations for a beauty contest; an Amish community in Berlin, Ohio, USA; Centro Berlin in Bolivia with its population of 10 supplemented by 1,000 llamas; and the village of Berlin in Guinea, which some believe was named in memory of a night of passion in the German capital.

Repeatedly crossing borders and time zones we experience a snapshot of life in each of these Berlins over the course of 24 hours.

The Amish Community of Berlin, Ohio from Worldwide Berlin by Berlin Producers

Photo: Berlin Ohio courtesy of Berlin Producers

Worldwide Berlin focuses on a few characters in each of the seven Berlins featured, showing aspects of their daily lives that illustrate the differences between their cultures and surroundings but also at times the similarities in their routines and experiences.

You have to wonder how the Club Mate drinkers of Berlin, Germany would enjoy the Mate tea from which it is derived, drunk in Centro Berlin in Bolivia, or indeed how the inhabitants of any of these other Berlins would react to some of the sights nobody bats an eyelid at in the Hauptstadt.

Worldwide Berlin – Part 1

Worldwide Berlin – Part 2

The documentary, Worldwide Berlin, is just one part of an interactive multimedia project aimed at bringing together the people of all the Berlins around the globe.  To share your Berlin experiences and connect with other Berliners worldwide go to the Worldwide Berlin website, like the Facebook page and follow on Twitter.

Sunday Documentary: Ostblut

Kalle from Oldschool Tattoo Berlin from Ostblut by Sammy Metwalli

Photo: Still from Ostblut by Sammy Metwalli

Filmed, edited and directed by Berlin-based filmmaker Sammy Metwalli, Ostblut is a short documentary about Kalle, a tattoo artist who opened East Berlin’s fist tattoo shop.

Growing up in East Berlin under DDR rule, Kalle describes himself as ‘a public enemy’, and it was whilst imprisoned for his political views that he learned how to tattoo from an older inmate who recognised his artistic talents.

Tattoos were not tolerated in the East German prison system and inking or being inked was punished by 3 weeks solitary confinement in the ‘Bunker’.  Kalle was serving out one such punishment when he learned of the fall of the wall, an event that would dramatically alter his life and facilitate his new career.

My second life started that day. Before that, I didn’t have a life.

The walls of Kalle’s shop, Oldschool Tattoo Berlin, in his native Friedrichshain are decorated with the homemade tattoo needles used by youths in the DDR during his childhood, though these days the equipment he uses is obviously more sophisticated.

Ostblut is a cracking documentary on many levels: Kalle’s is a fascinating story and an interesting portrait of life in Berlin before and after the fall of the wall; it is artfully shot and creatively put together; it has a pulsating soundtrack ideally suited to the film – my only criticism, I wish there was more of it.

Ostblut

The Woman Who Married The Berlin Wall

Eija-Riitta Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer, the woman who married the Berlin Wall

Photo: via kotzendes-einhorn.de

“Wow. He’s more good looking than in the pictures.”  This is how Eija-Riitta Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer, who married the Berlin wall on 17 June 1979 describes her feelings on first ‘meeting’ the wall.

Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer, who lives in Liden, Sweden in a house that doubles as a guillotine museum, fell in love with the Berlin wall when she saw it on television when she was 7.

Asked for the Swedish TV series 100 höjdare (100 Highlights) about the first time she had sex with the Berlin wall, she says that she was 12 or 13, though she is coy about the details of the encounter.

In her bedroom she shows Fredrik Wikingsson the 1:20 scale model of the wall she sleeps with, the sixth such model she built complete with barbed wire.  She also has a fence in her room though ‘he’ is too big to take to bed.

Unlike the many thousand of people celebrating on 9 November 1989, Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer describes the day the wall fell as a ‘catastrophe’.

In Lars Laumann’s film Berlinermuren, which was shown at the 5th Berlin Biennale and propelled her into the media spotlight she elaborates on her feelings about what she feels is the mutilation of her husband and singles out the Hoff for criticism for the part she feels he played:

Shame on you David Hasselhoff – you are nothing without that talking car.

100 höjdare – Berlin Wall Woman (Berlinmurenkvinnan)

Eija-Riitta Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer isn’t alone in having strong feelings for the wall.  Erika Eiffel is an American who married the Eiffel Tower in 2007 and also has a relationship with the Berlin Wall.

She is the founder of OS Internationale, an organisation for those who are attracted to and have relationships with inanimate objects.

Taboo: In Love With The Berlin Wall

Sunday Documentary: The Iconic Photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Anthony Suau - Iconic Photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Photo: Anthony Suau | Time Magazine

On the 9th of November 1989 the eyes of the world were on Berlin.  TV crews and journalists from all corners of the globe gathered in the German capital to document one of the 20th century’s defining moments – the fall of the Berlin Wall.  25 years on from that incredible night it is only right that today’s Sunday Documentary should be about the Mauerfall. Photographer Anthony Suau was amongst those capturing the scenes of jubilation and euphoria for Time Magazine and he recounts his experiences in The Iconic Photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

As thousands of people gather in Berlin to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the border that separated East and West it is time to reflect on the events that made it all possible.

Tonight in Berlin the border is visible once more.  The Lichtgrenze (Border of Light), an installation of 8,000 illuminated balloons marks the course a 15km stretch of the wall from Bornholmer Strasse to the Oberbaumbrücke.

Like the Lichtgrenze, on 9th November 1989 it all started at Bornholmer Strasse.

In response to mass protests and a giant tear in the Iron Curtain making it possible for citizens to escape through Hungary into Austria, the East German government decided to relax it’s border controls and allow travel between East and West.  In a fortuitous twist of fate an uninformed Günter Schabowski appeared at his daily press conference and told the gathered reporters about the easing of restrictions.  Asked when the new directive would take effect he replied ‘As far as I’m aware, immediately. Straight away.’

And so the fate of the Berlin Wall was sealed.

East Berliners curious to see the Western half of their city went immediately to the border crossing points and thousands gathered at Bornholmer Strasse.  Harald Jaeger was the guard in charge of Passport Control at the crossing point and under increased pressure from the crowd he disobeyed the orders of his superiors and opened the border.

As a symbol of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was a natural gathering point for the celebrations that night.

No doubt emboldened by alcohol, the new sense of freedom afforded to them and a feeling that the guards no longer had the same power over them, revellers climbed onto the wall.  But even that wasn’t enough for some and they began attacking the barrier that had divided the city for 28 years. The wall had fallen symbolically that evening but many were determined to see it fall literally too.

With knives, hammers and pick axes they set about destroying the Berlin Wall.  It was this destruction that was captured by Anthony Suau for Time Magazine in what has become one of the iconic photos of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Iconic Photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In the Belly of a Whale – El Bocho

Berlin-based Street Artist El Bocho At Work On The Street In Berlin

Prolific Berlin-based street artist El Bocho speaks to Andreas Lamoth and Frederic Leitzke about his work and his motivations in 2013 in a new episode of their award-winning documentary In the Belly of a Whale.

You may recognise a number of the pieces featured as El Bocho has appeared many many times on andBerlin.  Street art from his Citizen series, Little Lucy and most recently Tina Berlina characters pop up regularly on the streets of Berlin.  You can see more of his work on his website and Facebook page.

In the Belly of a Whale – El Bocho

Sunday Documentary: Clive James – Postcard from Berlin

Australian comedian and broadcaster Clive James was a darling of British television in the 1980s and early 1990s.  As part of his Postcard From… series, James visited Berlin in 1995 and produced the documentary, Postcard from Berlin.

It’s interesting to see how much some of the places shown have changed in the last 20 years.  For instance, the area around the Führer Bunker was then a wasteland – unrecognisable as the site of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

However, some things don’t change – there are still cranes everywhere.

Clive James – Postcard from Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Jesse Owens lines up at the start of the 100m final at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Jesse Owens Returns To Berlin is a documentary written, directed and produced by Bud Greenspan and filmed during a visit to Berlin in 1964, which recounts Owens’ incredible achievements during the 1936 Olympics.

The rise of National Socialism in Germany and Hitler’s anti-semitic policies and advocation of the superiority of the Aryan race resulted in several calls for a boycott of the games.  Against this political backdrop, Jesse Owens’ haul of four gold medals is all the more significant.

For a black athlete to demonstrate clearly his superior athleticism and so convincingly outperform his white counterparts was a massive slap in the face for Hitler and made a mockery of his racist theories during his Nazi showpiece games.

Standing in the box at the Olympiastadion where Hitler sat to watch the games, Jesse Owens tells with pride that the flag of the US team was the only one not to be dipped as the athletes passed the Führer.  It may be my imagination but it seems that Hitler’s jaw twitches as he observes this act of defiance.

It was at 28:48 in this documentary that a legend was born.  Standing in the Olympiastadion with Luz Long’s son Kai, Owens tell the remarkable story (disputed like so many other great tales) of his father’s part in his victory in the Long Jump (then known as the Broad Jump).

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin is a wonderful documentary that delivers on many levels: it is a fascinating account of sporting prowess, an important historical record and a tale of good beats evil, and for Berlin fans there is the added interest of seeing the Olympiastadion and Lustgarten as they looked during the 1936 Olympics.

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Sunday Documentary: WATERGATE X

The Crowd and Lights at Watergate Berlin

Photo: Screenshot from WATERGATE X

WATERGATE X is a documentary directed by Stathis Klotsikas produced in 2012 to celebrate 10 years of the Berlin club, Watergate.  The film mixes footage from inside the club and interviews featuring a number of Watergate residents and includes a chat with world-renowned DJ, Sven Väth.

The chances are, if you’ve been to Berlin in the summer, you’ve seen people partying on the club’s deck on the Spree river as you walked over the Oberbaumbrücke.

Friedrich Liecthtenstein fans should keep an eye out for the footage from the video for Solomun – Kackvogel at 22:58.

At 32:51 Dixon identifies what differentiates some of Berlin’s most successful clubs from the ‘superclubs’ in other cities and what makes the Berlin club scene so…well, Berlin.

As well as running a successful club and record label Watergate also organises an Open Air in Rummelsberg each summer and footage of the 2011 event features from 28:15.

I stood in the queue for Watergate once but it wasn’t moving so I ended up in Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke instead – this documentary about this iconic Berlin club makes me determined to go back to have my own experiences there.

WATERGATE X

Sunday Documentary: Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed

Portrait of Albert Goering c.1940 - screenshot from the documentary 'Goering's Last Secret: Revealed'

Photo: Screenshot from the documentary ‘Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed’

Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed tells the remarkable story of Albert Göring (Goering), the brother of Hitler’s henchman, Hermann Göring, who traded on his brother’s name and made it his mission to rescue people from the tyranny of the Nazis.

This documentary follows William Hastings Burke, an Australian, whose fascination with Göring’s life and quest for the truth about his acts of resistance and subsequent research was laid out in the book, Thirty Four, published by Wolfgeist Ltd in 2009.

The book’s title is a reference to the 34 names on Albert Göring’s list of people he helped that he presented as witnesses during his trial at Nuremberg.

Ironically and sadly, considering his exploits, the allies brought Albert before the military tribunals at the Nuremberg trials for war crimes merely because he was the brother of Hermann Göring.

His accusers refused to believe his tales of resistance until after 14 months imprisonment he was appointed a new interrogator, Major Victor Parker.

In what was a very fortunate coincidence, Parker was the nephew of Sophie Paschkis, the wife of the composer Franz Lehár, who Albert had saved and whose name was among the thirty-four.

Despite his eventual exoneration, Albert Göring continued to suffer for his association with the Göring family name and its Nazi connections and this thoughtful and absorbing documentary and his life do not have the happy endings they deserved.

Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed