DOK Leipzig 29. Oktober – 4. November 2018
61. Internationales Leipziger Festival für Dokumentar- und Animationsfilm
DOK Leipzig 29 October – 4 November 2018
61st International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film
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Programmübersicht Rhythms of India Jürgen Böttcher

Sometimes you want to fly - Homage à Gitta Nickel

Gitta Nickel's oeuvre does not only abound with extremely valuable references to his-tory: It also contains unadorned images of every-day life in a country that no longer exists. At the same time it conveys the utopia that there is something else in the works of „great" artists who Nickel has managed to portray so masterly, as has been done in the dreams and longings of ordinary people, where she felt at home.

But Ain’t I Right Just a Little?

R: Gitta Nickel
Deutschland, 1997, 15:00min

Mi, 19.10. 14:00 Uhr Universum

The lives and working conditions of women in the countryside are a recurrent theme of Gitta Nickel’s work, which is continued and commented on in this miniature produced for an MDR television series. If you wonder what may have become of the women Nickel portrayed in her pre-unification films, this might be the answer: Ida, who was left alone in her big house and keeps trying, in spite of old age and increasing isolation, to preserve her rural way of life, from keeping small livestock to crop rotation, while she never ceases to worry about the hunger in the world. Grit Lemke

To Feel the Wind on the Skin

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1989, 77:00min

Fr, 21.10. 10:00 Uhr Universum

Following a bathing accident in his youth, Thomas is paralysed from the neck down and, given up by the doctors and pumped full of morphine, dozes his life away in a hospital. But his parents fight for him and thus against the practices of the GDR health care system and its customary treatment of disabled persons. Their support and his admirable self-discipline enable him to return to life as a translator of Japanese and a painter who also becomes an activist in one of the first self-help organisations of the GDR. In this empathetic work with its strict composition of impressive black and white photos and dissonant music, Gitta Nickel focuses once more on the individual’s right to lead a self-determined life, which could hardly be demonstrated more drastically than with the example of Thomas. Grit Lemke

Gundula – Born in ‘58

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1982, 59:00min

Do, 20.10. 14:00 Uhr Universum

In many ways, the single mother Gundula, who works shifts in a nursing home and tours dance events as a singer in her spare time, evokes the heroine of the DEFA fiction film “Solo Sunny”, which later achieved cult status, except that her reality is even more drab and devoid of all glamour. Like Sunny, Gundula fights for her right to be an individual, which includes caring for patients in the bleak and thoroughly standardised life of the care home (the depiction of which was another taboo in the GDR) as well as her music, which is eyed suspiciously by the “work collective”. When Gundula – though the residents of the home love and appreciate her – must justify her way of life in front of a tribunal, one realises that a country can also perish because it is too narrow-minded. Award of the Film Clubs Leipzig in 1982. Grit Lemke

Time to Make Hay

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1972, 43:00min

Mi, 19.10. 14:00 Uhr Universum

This multiple award winner (Silver Dove Leipzig 1972, Main Prize of the Jury of the Association of German Adult Education Centres and Prize of the AID Oberhausen 1973) is one of the most important and honest documents of the reorganisation of agriculture in the GDR. The story of a village and an LPG (Agricultural Production Cooperative) in the Oderbruch region is told on two levels: the memories and daily life of calf breeder Frieda and her husband Ernst in 1972, and material filmed by Karl Gass at an LPG meeting in 1963. The latter, the only footage from the days of the “socialist spring”, had never been released before because it openly showed mismanagement, alcoholism and poverty. The biographies of two rural workers are intertwined with the history of a century, and beyond the then highly explosive socio-political content of the film a touching story of life and love emerges. Grit Lemke

Sometimes You Want to Fly

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1981, 62:00min

Do, 20.10. 14:00 Uhr Universum

The Berlin-Marzahn construction site was considered the most important and prestigious project of the GDR residential construction programme, which in turn constituted the core of the SED’s (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) social policy. Nickel’s long term observation of the Lademann “youth brigade” gives us an idea of why this ambitious project ultimately failed: the workers’ initial enthusiasm (mixed with a spirit of adventure) gradually gives way to disillusionment in the face of mismanagement, lack of materials and phrase mongering. The image of the proud builder – one of the most effective icons of socialism – is shattered, not least because we can feel the desperation of the real workers at their own cramped living conditions. Small wonder then that the reactions to the film were extremely hostile; its release was temporarily prohibited and made possible only when it won the Silver Dove in Leipzig. Grit Lemke


R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1981, 59:00min

So, 23.10. 11:00 Uhr Universum

When the Neues Gewandhaus opened in Leipzig, Gitta Nickel, commissioned by GDR television, produced a portrait of the Gewandhaus Orchestra. The musicians at rehearsals, on tour, talking about and making music. Kurt Masur on the rostrum, during a private moment in the garden and with workers on the construction site. As in her preceding artists’ portraits, Nickel manages to create a composition of music, images and attitude. She brings out what is special about this ensemble under its mastermind Masur: dedication, passion, discipline, strong ties to their place of residence and its tradition and – as one of the musicians puts it – “not letting the bandmaster drive you crazy”. Grit Lemke

Tay Ho – The Village in the Fourth Zone

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1973, 35:00min

Sa, 22.10. 19:30 Uhr Universum

Gitta Nickel’s Vietnam film, which was awarded the Leipzig Golden Dove in 1973, captures images of the long awaited peace: laughing children, impressions of village life and a will to rebuild the country that is felt in a production counselling session and a birthday party for Uncle Ho. But reflective notes creep into this praise of socialist construction, for example when a young woman talks of personal sacrifices. Nickel later said that working in Vietnam, where she realised three films, had been difficult and changed her perspective. Grit Lemke

Do Not Scorch Our Earth

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1980, 42:00min

Sa, 22.10. 19:30 Uhr Universum

When Gitta Nickel visited Hiroshima in 1980, she found a society that wanted to forget at all costs and nuclear victims whose stories nobody wanted to hear. In an expressive montage, she mixes the quiet moments of remembrance with torn Penderecki sounds and pictures of a fast-growing metropolis and prosperous industry in a frenzy of capitalist accumulation, where only healthy, able-bodied people find their place. Doubtless one of the highlights in Gitta Nickel’s work which will endure far beyond its time: an impressive and painful demonstration of the road that led to Fukushima. Grit Lemke

… and the Polish Farmgirls Are Coming Tomorrow

R: Gitta Nickel
DDR, 1975, 52:00min

Mi, 19.10. 14:00 Uhr Universum

This is regarded both as Gitta Nickel’s most important work of the 1970s and a highlight of the GDR television documentary. The film is a precise observation of an encounter between German workers and Polish women who come to a poultry factory for training. In individual portraits that talk of problems and desires, the film questions and deconstructs the permanently asserted “steadfast friendship” with the “socialist brother countries”. By revealing conflicts and prejudices, it breaks a closely guarded taboo; but it also finds moments of real warmth behind the starkly depicted hardships of working life and the clash of cultures which even seem subversive in this context. Grit Lemke