German Film Series Looks 'Beyond the Berlin Wall' 20 Years Later

Story posted November 05, 2009


This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in East Germany and the opening of the Berlin wall. The Bowdoin Department of German, with support from the German Embassy's "Freedom without Walls" project, will commemorate the event with a three-film series titled "Beyond the Berlin Wall: A Retrospective 20 Years Later" on November 5, 12, and 14, 2009.

In the face of political changes in the Soviet Union (Mikhail Gorbachev's reform course), a crippled economic system, the mass exodus of citizens who fled via the newly opened Hungarian and then Czechoslovakian borders and increasing demands for freedoms and rights from within its own population, the East German government found itself no longer able to uphold its policies restricting its citizens' movement. Instead, in 1989, it issued a directive whereby the wall, which had stood for 28 years and marked a physical, ideological, national and military border in Germany, Europe and the world, was opened and the unraveling of the cold war began. This event has come to symbolize a watershed in 20th-century European and world history.

Leipzig in the Fall.

The three films being shown in the series (two from the East German DEFA collection and each with English subtitles) explore the history and function of the wall, as well as the East German system of surveillance. Jenn Hosek, assistant professor of German studies at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, will join Bowdoin faculty Birgit Tautz and Matthew Miller for discussions about the films and the events portrayed in them.

Thursday, November 5 7 p.m. Room 151, Cleaveland Hall
Leipzig im Herbst (Leipzig in the Fall), directed by Gerd Kroske and Andreas Voigt
Leipzig in the Fall is a comprehensive documentation of the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig that grew strong in the October weeks and exerted considerable pressure on the East German government, prior to the latter's November 9, 1989, announcement that East Germans would be permitted free travel. Shot by DEFA directors Kroske and Voigt, it is one of the very last films to come out of East Germany and includes interviews with demonstrators, members of the citizens' rights movement, officials, and bystanders.
The screening will be followed by a discussion, during which Birgit Tautz will share anecdotes from her eyewitness account of these events.

Thursday, November 12 7 p.m. Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center
Und deine Liebe auch (And your Love too), directed by Frank Vogel
And your Love too is an East German film shot in Berlin during and after the building of the wall in 1961. It sets the development of a love triangle against the backdrop of the newly divided city and explores the rationale and critique of the wall in suggestive and aesthetically innovative ways.
Guest speaker Jenn Hosek, an expert scholar on East Germany and East German film, will give a talk and lead a discussion about the film.

The Lives of Others.

Saturday, November 14 7 p.m. Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmark
The Lives of Others was a blockbuster success in Germany and won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. But it is also a controversial film that demands critical discussion.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with the audience led by Jenn Hosek and Matthew Miller.

All films are open to the public and admission is free. For more information contact the Bowdoin Department of German at 207-725-3357.

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