Winds of Change - From Cold War to the Peaceful Revolution 1989: Germany’s Long Road to Unity Through Cinema
When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, people were singing and celebrating the newfound freedom for East Germany. The Cold War was ended, the socialist one-party regime of the GDR had to step down and the way was cleared for Germany’s reunification. The moving image programme Winds of Change depicts Germany’s long and winding road from the early years of the GDR to the peaceful revolution with six important films, exemplifying the courage, perseverance and faith that dramatically but also realistically led to the Germany today. These films, most of them by East German directors, have been appreciated for their genuine emotions and excellent crafts by German and global audiences alike. German historian Dr. Andreas Kötzing will visit Hong Kong to chat with the audience about the contemporary history of Germany and the Wind of Change film series.
*with introduction and after-screening talk.
Germany in the Cold War
Nominated for Best Film, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1964
Right before the time of the Berlin Wall, Rita returns to her village in East Germany (GDR) to find peace and quiet after a nervous breakdown. Her memories stay afloat - of her past lover Manfred, her ambition to become a teacher and her factory work, “The city breathed heavier than usual that summer.” It was a time of political opportunists and ideological hardliners, the unspoken deceits of the East and the tantalising promise of the West.
This film was banned from time to time in the GDR, but remains as one of the bravest films of the former East German socialist state. Made with a newfound and explosive but brief creative freedom after the Wall was built in 1961, the making of this masterpiece was strongly influenced by the French New Wave.
Building the GDR
After years of building bus shelters and phone booths, Daniel, an architect in his late thirties, is finally commissioned to build a major community centre on the fringe of East Berlin. Promised with a team of architects that he has chosen, he leads his old colleagues and friends to realise an ambitious design to counter the dull constructions of the GDR. With a conservative superior, a team that is falling apart and a wife who longs for the West, Daniel ponders on his country and its people.
This is the last film made by the GDR, and is one of the first films to depict the last days of the state during the transitional period of the unification. By the time the filming was finished, the GDR no longer existed.
The Peaceful Revolution and the End of the GDR
No guns nor cannons Only conversations
Adapted from Eugen Ruge's semi-autobiographical bestseller, the film has been highly praised by critics. In the words of Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter, “There is something emphatically old-school about [the director and screenwriter’s] shared creative approach with its lyrical language, beautifully lit interiors and forensically detailed recreation of domestic life in the old [GDR].”
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Heavily influenced by East German films, West German Florian Aigner’s first directorial fiction feature is a lookback at how history still affects his country’s politics, economy and society now. With manipulated and superficial differences of ideologies still lingering, the world is still intensely tackling international politicking and nailing down its bearings today.
This critically and popularly acclaimed tragicomedy moved local and international audiences to tears upon its release. It playfully and poignantly expresses that disorienting period of change and nostalgia, making it one of the most memorable films of German cinema.
Screen Talk: The Unexpected Fall of the Wall: The Dramatic Events of 89/90
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was absolutely a surprise for German and global governments and for the world, although there were already telltale signs of the socialist model state’s façade cracking - a growing movement of opposition, Monday prayers, peaceful demonstrations and the mass flight over to Hungary amongst other traces. Historian Dr. Andreas Kötzing explains the reasons that led to the collapse of the GDR and shows how this is reflected in the films of the series Winds of Change.
Conducted in English
About the speakerDr. Andreas Kötzing
Research Fellow, Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies (Dresden)
**20% off discount for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. Tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis. Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission.
**20% off discount to Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s students with a valid discount letter (Not applicable to internet and telephone booking)
**20% off for each purchase of 4 or more standard tickets.
While it is the HKAC’s policy to secure the best possible screening versions of our presented films, the HKAC appreciates our patrons’ understanding of the occasional less than perfect screening versions. Thank you for your kind consideration.
Co-Presenters: Hong Kong Arts Centre and Goethe-Institut Hongkong