FORTSCHRITT IM TAL DER AHNUNGSLOSEN
(PROGRESS IN THE VALLEY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW)
67' - 1:1.85 - 5.1. -2k - DCP / BluRay
German / Arabic (English ST)
Shadowed by weekly, racist demonstrations in East Germany former factory workers of the German Democratic Republic together with Syrian refugees embark on a self-taught immigration course to share the memories of their lost homelands.
a documentary by Florian Kunert
Editor Ian Purnell, Florian Kunert
Dramaturgy Herbert Schwarze
Cinematography Joanna Piechotta
Sounddesign Stefan Voglsinger
Music Stefan Galler, Franziska Henke
Sound Christian Bläsche, Stefan Voglsinger
Producers Stefan Gieren, Sarah Schreier
Florian Kunert, KHM
A production of The StoryBay. Coproduced by Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln, Florian Kunert.
Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Sachsen
Sächsische Landesanstalt für Rundfunk und Medien
30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain the legacy of the German Democratic Republic is at stake in the ruins of the ‘Progress’ factory.
Once producing harvester machinery the factory grounds today house asylum seekers who are confronted by weekly racist demonstrations in East Germany.
Former factory workers of ‘Progress’ help Syrian refugees with their German Integration Course. What starts with a German language lesson in the ‘Progress’ ruin ends with classes of political education and a GDR military camp. Driven by the personal entanglement of the director the re-enactments are deconstructed and the social conditioning of the GDR everyday life becomes apparent.
In this memory work the language itself is of importance which invites assumptions, but never confirms them. It wallows in memories and forbids itself to do so at the same time.
Archive material re-establishes the bond of a socialist friendship between the GDR and Syria that connected both countries in the 1980s. The local choir comments with GDR-songs whereby everyone and everything stands for more than just himself.
The ‘Progress’ ruin becomes a symbol of the lost homeland which blurs the borders between the GDR and Syria and between the past and today. The attempt of a convergence, a socialist utopia.
> PRESSBOOK DOWNLOAD <
Since October 2014 thousands of people under the name of ‘Patriotic Europeans Against The Islamization of the West’ (PEGIDA) have gathered in the streets of Dresden to rally against the German immigration policies of welcoming asylum seekers to Germany. Why is the anti-immigration movement so much bigger and more violent in East Germany than the rest of the country?
I started to research this question through the filter of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and became interested in the psychological meaning of the revolution of 1989. For many, personal identity had been shattered by the loss of national identity. But passively participating in the peaceful revolution didn’t necessarily result in an inner transformation or an understanding of how an individual may have been directly a victim of the GDR regime. Having grown up as child of parents who lived in the GDR, I wanted to explore the deep complexities and contradictions of this possible loss. I focus on the ‘valley of the people who don’t know’: a region in East Germany that didn’t receive TV signal from the west and therefor did not have an alternative source of information to the GDR propaganda. This area is now the heart of the PEGIDA anti-immigration movement.
How can you find a visual language to make the subtle trauma of the GDR everyday-life visible? The experimental nature of the re-enactments in this film helps to disrupt the dominant, often nostalgic narrative of the personal history and to give space for an instinctual choice of words to talk about personal memories. The Syrian asylum seekers who feature in the film play an important role in finding a new angle on the GDR history, bringing their own contemporary political context to the exploration.
Born in 1989 I didn’t experience the GDR directly but am questioning; am I still a part of its collective memory? In the GDR archive material I find missing images for these fragmented memories. The film takes these images of memory physically into the former factory building ‘Progress’ which closed down in the 1990s and has since been used as a home for asylum seekers. Placing historical meaning within the walls of the building and watching the slow demolition of the space is also ritualistic and allows engagement with GDR history retrospectively. ‘Progress’ becomes a space in which to question the legacy of the GDR and its possible repercussions today.
... World Premiere coming up in February 2019