Film Archive

Countries (Film Archive)

German Competition 2014
Am Kölnberg Robin Humboldt, Laurentia Genske

Four residents of Cologne in a prefabricated highrise on the edge of the city. A story of struggles against addiction and poverty, of lives that used to be different. And of friendship and happiness.

Am Kölnberg

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Kunsthochschule für Medien, Köln
Robin Humboldt, Laurentia Genske
Laurentia Genske, Robin Humboldt, Johannes Waltermann
Carina Mergens
Robert Keilbar
In 1974, a housing estate consisting of nine high-rises was built in the middle of a field on the southern edge of Cologne. Its silhouette, seen from a distance and in the right light, resembles a massive elevation, which soon earned it the name of Kölnberg (Cologne mountain). It also gained a reputation as a deprived area very quickly. People don’t like to talk about Kölnberg, and if they do, it’s usually in lurid headlines. In 2013, 4,100 men, women and children from around 60 nations lived in Kölnberg, the percentage of foreigners was listed as 61.8 %. Statistics are an effective tool and whoever has power over statistical definitions very much shapes our image of reality.
With patience and a lot of time, Filmmakers Robin Humboldt and Laurentia Genske worked their way behind the social stereotypes, headlines and statistics. Their film portrays four people to whom Kölnberg has become a home a long time ago or just recently. They avoid the equally well-meaning and condescending perspective of social services and try to realise a respectful, participatory encounter with the protagonists, who are both extraordinary and extraordinarily diverse in their respective “normalities”.

Ralph Eue



Honorary Mention in the German Competition 2014

German Competition 2014
Die Böhms – Architektur einer Familie Maurizius Staerkle-Drux

Gottfried Böhm is “the boss”, the patriarch of an architects’ dynasty. But his wife’s death rocks the family’s very foundations. The meticulous exploration of a universe.

Die Böhms – Architektur einer Familie

Documentary Film
Germany,
Switzerland
2014
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Carl-Ludwig Rettinger, Lisa Blatter
Maurizius Staerkle-Drux
Jonas Buehler
Raphael Beinder
Anika Simon
Maurizius Staerkle-Drux
Maurizius Staerkle-Drux
Gottfried Böhm is one of the most important contemporary German architects. His fame is based on the creation of sculptural buildings of concrete, steel and glass, some of which are counted among the architectural icons of the 20th century. As the son of Dominikus Böhm, he is the patriarch of a dynasty of architects to which his sons Stephan, Peter and Paul Böhm have also belonged for a long time. 94 years old today, he still works daily on the development and construction designs of his office. When Gottfried Böhm’s wife Elisabeth, also an architect and the major source of inspiration for all four Böhms, died a few years ago, the family was robbed of its emotional centre.
Maurizius Staerkle-Drux investigates the Böhms’s various architectural universes with admirable visual sensitivity and at the same time traces the subtle differences between his protagonists’ image and self perception. The title of his film may be taken literally: it’s about the architecture of a family first and foremost, the portrait of a well-known family of architects later.

Ralph Eue



Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize 2014

German Competition 2014
Domino Effekt Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski

The Abkhazian Minister of Sports is fighting for a Domino World Championship in Sokhumi. And with his wife, who is Russian and doesn’t feel accepted. A misalliance rife with tragicomic moments.

Domino Effekt

Documentary Film
Germany,
Poland
2014
76 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ann Carolin Renninger, Thomas Kufus, Anna Wydra
Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski
Maciej Cieślak
Piotr Rosołowski
Karoline Schulz, Andrzej Dąbrowski
Piotr Rosołowski, Elwira Niewiera
Marcin Lenarczyk, Tomasz Wieczorek
At the moment things are quiet in Abkhazia, the semi-autonomous Caucasian mini state. Too quiet, says Minister of Sports Rafael. As stubborn and single-minded as Don Quixote he wants to use sports to bring back former glory to Abkhazia – after all, it worked under the Soviets. Ignoring the rusted ships that litter the beaches like stranded whales and the hopelessly decrepit mansions along the esplanade of Sokhumi, he fights for his event: a domino world championship. With admirable determination Rafael braves all obstacles: the lack of electricity, the lack of talented athletes and the tears of his wife, Moscow singer Natasha, who gave up her country for him. She feels foreign and crushed in the cultural conflict between Russia and Georgia who both claim territory in this region. Elwira Niewira and Piotr Rosołowski link the private family disputes of a mésalliance with the sometimes absurd political reality of Abkhazia with near masterly flair. Like the couple who have yet to find each other, the country is looking for its identity. In any case, the resonant pop song about the Abkhazian capital is more than a beginning.

Cornelia Klauß



Golden Dove in the German Competition 2014

German Competition 2014
Engelbecken Gamma Bak, Steffen Reck

An East-West love affair, subversive theatre, the GDR underground, psychosis. What makes a human being become paranoid? A reflective essay in the form of an associative poem.

Engelbecken

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
80 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gamma Bak
Gamma Bak, Steffen Reck
Fil Ieropoulos
Gamma Bak, Steffen Reck, Dieter Vervuurt, Michael Krause
Steffen Reck
Gamma Bak, Steffen Reck
Till Wimmer
A look through the embrasure of a former GDR guard tower reveals no more than a narrow section of Kreuzberg’s Engelbecken. This visual experience becomes the starting point for filmmakers Gamma Bak’s and Steffen Reck’s personal trip back in time: in 1987, about ten years after David Bowie wrote “Heroes” near the German-German border, they tried to live a real East-West love affair. But they didn’t feel like heroes. They lived on the 25 Marks she had to exchange daily when she wanted to go to Prenzlauer Berg, where he had barricaded himself in his flat like a cornered animal. As an uncompromising individualist and member of the subversive “Zinnober” theatre company, he felt permanently threatened, had long ago crossed the threshold into psychosis. When the couple finally dared take the bull by the horns, their move may seem naive in retrospect. But that, too, is a question of perspective.
Their joint essayistic reflections on an apparently hopeless situation evolve in the unusual second-person narrative format, which culminates in the moral issue of whether to stay or go – not chronological, but ordered like an associative poem. Both can fall back on a wealth of artistic archive material: Super 8 movies, photos, drawings, performances, but also painstakingly collected evidence of border crossings and the distorted reflection of their love affair in the Stasi files.
Lars Meyer
German Competition 2014
FEMMEfille Kiki Allgeier

Anorexic model Isabelle Caro’s trajectory from being the face of Benetton to death. The story of a foiled childhood and the perverse commercialisation of a disease.

FEMMEfille

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
83 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gerd Haag, Frank Stephan Limbach
Kiki Allgeier
Masami Tomihisa, Andreas Bjørck
Kiki Allgeier
Gesa Marten
Min Tesch
Kiki Allgeier
Emil Klotzsch
In 2007, a Benetton advertising campaign made its anorexic French model, Isabelle Caro, famous all over the world. Huge billboards lined the streets from Paris to Milan, displaying her emaciated body and eyes that looked at the world from deep sockets, almost arrogant towards her disease. Conceived as an admonition and a deterrent, not just with regard to the glamorous world of super models, the campaign also marked the start of her career as a superwaif.
Director Kiki Allgeier followed Isabelle Caro over several years until her early death in November 2010 on a path between media hype, acting ambitions and the self-chosen role as the “poster child for anorexia”, whose consequences had never before been shown and discussed so drastically. Allgeier uses the young woman’s legacy to her – photos, diaries, videos – and the father’s memories to tell her version of Isabelle’s story. It starts with a little girl’s desire to be someone else. To be mistress of her own time. To have friends, play in the garden. All the things her seriously depressed mother, who locked her daughter in the house and isolated her from the world for years, forbids her to do. This desire to be another Isabelle, to find a new role in her life, emerges as the motive for offering – and marketing – herself to the media as the icon of a taboo disorder. At the same time we are watching her starve. Do we need any further proof of the madness that surrounds us?
Matthias Heeder
German Competition 2014
Himmelverbot Andrei Schwartz

Hrib, who protested his innocence for more than 20 years, is released from a prison near Bucharest. A painful rehabilitation and growing doubts: Is it all a lie?

Himmelverbot

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
86 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gerd Haag
Andrei Schwartz
Bernd Meiners, Susanne Schüle, Andrei Schwartz
Heidrun Schweitzer
Andrei Schwartz
Marin Cazacu, Dinu Constantin, Severin Renke
Romanian-born director Andrei Schwartz met Gavril Hrib, who had been sentenced to life for murdering a public prosecutor, in 2002, when he was shooting his film “Jailbirds” at the high security prison of Rahova near Bucharest. After more than 20 years Hrib is finally released on probation, into a country he knows only from the Ceauşescu era. Romania, now a part of the European Union, has changed, including a new jurisdiction that allows early releases. Hrib, a lanky guy with a kippah under his baseball cap, knows how to win hearts with his sly wit and gawky helplessness. He worked hard to earn respect inside; outside he comes up against nothing but rejection and closed doors. Andrei Schwartz traces this painful attempt at rehabilitation over several years. What becomes manifest is that neither society nor Gavril Hrib are ready and that everything ultimately leads back to the starting point: the actual crime.
Cornelia Klauß
German Competition 2014
No Land's Song Ayat Najafi

Composer Sara wants to organise a concert of female singers in Tehran – in a country where female solo voices are banned. A political thriller and a musical journey.

No Land's Song

Documentary Film
France,
Germany
2014
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gunter Hanfgarn, Rouven Rech, Teresa Renn, Anne Grange
Ayat Najafi
Koohyar Kalari, Sarah Blum
Julia Wiedwald, Schokofeh Kamiz
Ayat Najafi
Sasan Nakhai, Dana Farzanehpour, Julien Brossier
“The female voice is fading away.” Iranian composer Sara Najafi’s statement must be taken literally, for the Islamic revolution of 1979 banned female singers from appearing in public in Iran. They are not allowed to perform solo any more, unless to an exclusively female audience. Recordings of former female icons can only be bought on the black market. What a grievous loss. But Sara is determined to refresh the cultural memory by roaming Teheran in the footsteps of famous singers of the 1920s and 60s and is about to revive the female voices in the present: she courageously plans an evening of Iranian and French soloists to rebuild shattered cultural bridges.
A concert that’s not allowed to take place. For two and a half years, director Ayat Najafi, who lives in Berlin today and shows a flair for the right scene, follows the preparations between Teheran and Paris that are always touch and go. What’s still possible, what goes too far? Sara’s regular audiences at the Ministry of Culture shed light on the interior logic and arbitrariness of the system, though they can only be heard (always to a black screen). Can intercultural solidarity and the revolutionary power of music accomplish anything here? A political thriller and at the same time a musical journey, this film never loses sight of its real centre: the female voice.

Lars Meyer



Prize of the Youth Jury 2014

German Competition 2014
Ruhr Record Rainer Komers

How an industrial region says farewell to work. A round of images filled with fire and rising plumes of steam, a declaration of love without words, and a final miners’ song.

Ruhr Record

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
45 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Rainer Komers, Mathias Krämer, Kurt Otterbacher
Rainer Komers
Rainer Komers
Bert Schmidt
Rainer Komers
Michel Klöfkorn
When it was still called the “Revier” (coal field) or “Pott” (cauldron), the Ruhr area used to signal coal and smoking chimneys even by its name. Now with the end of the industry and work as we knew it it is forced to re-define itself. Where miners used to go underground, where ore was loaded and steel was smelted, a huge leisure park is spreading today. Fun is the new labour. A changing region.
Fortunately, the Ruhr area has Rainer Komers, the master of transitions, important not only in a structural crisis but also in nonverbal documentary narration. Using quietly observed images and carefully placed sounds, he composes a roundel that takes up elements, movements or textures to translate them into something new. The gliding of the gondola of a fairground ride turns into that of coal on a conveyor belt, tapping off at the blast furnace into the hot plate on which Turkish women bake Pita bread, and the ornamental structure of a production facility is echoed in the logs of a camp fire. Speaking of which – the fire, the water and the plumes of steam rising constantly from all the images! Like the elemental forces that are still there and in eternal movement, so are the people. Singing a final “Glück auf” (miners’ song) and betting their last wages at the races. There can be no more impressive declaration of love than “Ruhr Record”.
Grit Lemke
German Competition 2014
Städtebewohner Thomas Heise

A Mexican juvenile detention centre, its inmates almost children. Observations in stunningly beautiful black and white. Faces, rebellion, and a poem by Brecht.

Städtebewohner

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
82 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Thomas Heise
Thomas Heise
Bowen Liu
Robert Nickolaus
Mike Gürgen
Thomas Heise
Christian Haardt, Thomas Heise
“A typical Heise”, one is tempted to call out: a quarry in terms of form, which is disguised neither by the exquisite dreamlike black and white images of seasoned cinematographer Robert Nickolaus nor the great cinematic score by Bowen Liu. At the same time, “Staedtebewohner” is the logical continuation of an oeuvre. Even in his Halle “Jam” films Thomas Heise was interested mainly in the social background from which the young right wing radicals came. In 2011 he entered new territory with “Solar System” which he shot in Argentina, a region of the globe that has haunted him ever since. But he also investigated the inner workings of institutions like the Berlin-Mitte district office (“The House”, 1985) or a crematorium (“Consequence”, 2012). And now it’s a Mexican juvenile detention centre. The film – another instance of self-referentiality – begins with a poem by Bertolt Brecht that opens a wide range of associations and evokes characters like Macheath or Baal, highly complex and sensual mixtures of violence and rebellion. The title is a statement: The inmates are an undeniable part of Mexico City. They may be locked away but can’t be split off.

Cornelia Klauß



DEFA Sponsoring Prize 2014

German Competition 2014
Striche ziehen. Gerd Kroske

Punk in Weimar, two brothers and a betrayal, prison, departure and action art at the Berlin wall. GDR archaeology bursting with cheerful, noisy anarchy and lines that extend to the present day.

Striche ziehen.

Documentary Film
Germany
2014
96 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gerd Kroske
Gerd Kroske
Klaus Janek, Die Madmans, KG Rest
Anne Misselwitz
Karin Gerda Schöning
Gerd Kroske
Mark Meusinger, Sylvia Grabe, Helge Haack
“The White Stripe” was the name of an art project in which five GDR citizens from the Weimar punk and underground scene who had left the GDR in 1986 wanted to paint a line around the Western side of the Berlin wall. On the second day, GDR border guards ambushed them and one of the friends ended up in Bautzen prison. Only after years in the West did they find out that in the GDR one of them had reported their activities – and about his brother.
Gerd Kroske plumbs the depths of betrayal, suppression and forgiveness in interviews with the protagonists, including a brash (and not unsympathetic) border guard, supported by a wealth of archive material with the scratchy, anarchic charm of Super 8 and ORWO. He insists without discrediting. The deeper he delves into the past, the more it recedes in favour of the question how both sides continued to live with the betrayal. The topicality of this story emerges in the great final showdown between the brothers as well as in the recurring images of the wall between Israel and Palestine. It’s not that easy to paint lines even today. Especially if it’s the line you want to draw under something.
Grit Lemke