Film Archive

Sections (Film Archive)

German Competition 2020
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80.000 Schnitzel Hannah Schweier
Monika has a new dream: She fights tirelessly to preserve her grandmother’s ailing inn and farm. A family chronicle and a film about life goals.
German Competition 2015
Akt Mario Schneider

Nude models in Leipzig: nudity motivates reflections on injuries and human warmth. A declaration of love to life and bodies that wear their scars with dignity.

Akt

Documentary Film
Germany
2015
105 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Christoph Kukula
Mario Schneider
Cornelius Renz, Mario Schneider
Friede Clausz
Gudrun Steinbrück-Plenert
Mario Schneider
Johannes Doberenz, Christian Carl, Kai Hesselbarth, Frieder Wohlfarth
After his award winning Mansfeld trilogy Mario Schneider returns to Leipzig with a simply astonishing film. The basic idea is brilliant: on one level, it’s the story of three people who pose nude at the local art academy. This creates a point of intersection from which the film credibly moves in and out of the protagonists’ worlds while linking the work with art with the work of life. At the same time, the scenes where they pose nude invite us to contemplate the human body.

In these moments the stories we just followed – a childhood memory, the beginning of a love story – find surprising physical correspondences that invite us to take a look at ourselves. Another layer is added to this narrative structure, introduced by an art student who poses nude herself and is searching for the artistic expression of an old question: how does human closeness work? Intelligently deployed in the dramaturgy, this subject merges the individual narratives into a social experience that is artist Mario Schneider’s real motif. Multilayered, masterfully edited and timed and sustained by its excellent cinematography, “Naked Beauty” is a declaration of love to the human body that bears its scars with dignity.

Matthias Heeder
German Competition 2012
Alleine Tanzen Biene Pilavci

Violence, hatred and alienation shaped the lives of this Turkish family in Germany. A very personal account of a failed migration and the attempt to start again.

Alleine Tanzen

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
98 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Max Milhahn, Telekult Film- und Medienproduktion GmbH
Biene Pilavci
Armin Dierolf
Biene Pilavci
Biene Pilavci
Daniel Engel
This sweeping visual investigation was prompted by the question, “After many years of hatred and extreme violence in our family, can my four siblings and I manage to forge sound relationships with other people, even though our parents and their parents before them were unable to?”
Birnur Pilavci deftly manoeuvres between the cliffs of contradictory certainties in her film. On the one hand there is the burden of the family we are born into and whose weight we are forced to carry, on the other hand there is the freedom to make decisions for oneself (or others), not resigned to fate but following one’s own inner compass. Or, as the great German journalist and exiled writer Willy Haas put it: “There are people who do wrong because they were wronged (like everybody). And there are those who do not do wrong, precisely because they were wronged.” The longer you watch it, the more it seems as if “Dancing Alone” wasn’t planned at all but more or less happened to all those involved – an open-ended experiment. “I doubt whether this is a good thing”, says the director, “but I guess it had to happen.”


– Ralph Eue
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 2012
And Who Taught You to Drive Andrea Thiele

A German in Mumbai, an American in Tokyo and a Korean in Munich are desperately trying to get their driving licenses. Truly, globalisation has not spread to driving a car yet.

And Who Taught You to Drive

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
90 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stefan Kloos, Kloos & Co. Medien GmbH
Andrea Thiele
Michaela Kay, Hauke Kliem
Sebastian Bäumler
Christoph Senn, Ulf Albert
Lia Jaspers
Marcial Kuchelmeister
Mirela, a woman in her mid-30s, is standing in a street in the megacity of Mumbai and cursing. Once again the German has booked a car and driver for some business appointments. Once again the car has given out and the driver speaks practically no English. Jake, a US-American, is trying to comprehend the Tokyo public transport system and has squeezed himself and his backpack into one of the crowded subway cars. The student Hye-Won lives in Munich with her husband and little son. The South-Korean dreams of mobility. All three protagonists decide to get a driving license to be able to move freely in their adopted countries.
The filmmakers observe their driving lessons and show everyday scenes in which cultural differences emerge most clearly. Some of the situations with the driving instructors are hilarious, but we also see their desperation and the feeling of being strangers far from home. We may live in a globalised world, but this film demonstrates how deeply we are all marked by our culture and how hard it is to shed it. Preparing for a driving test in a foreign culture seems to be no less difficult than learning a foreign language. No doubt about it, globalisation has not spread to driving a car.
– Antje Stamer
German Competition 2013
Art War Marco Wilms

Art as a weapon! Graffiti on Cairo’s walls as a medium of rebellion, Egyptian underground artists as the chroniclers of events. A frenzied trip through colours and rhythms.

Art War

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
87 minutes
subtitles: 
German
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Marlen Burghardt, Marco Wilms
Marco Wilms
Ramy Essam, Bosaina and Wetrobots, Tonbüro Berlin
Marco Wilms, Abdelrhman Zin Eldin, Emanuele Ira, Bashir Mohamed Wagih, Ali Khaled
Stephan Talneau
Mohamed Khaled
Marco Wilms
Art is a weapon! This motto still holds true in Cairo. After 30 years of autocracy, President Mubarak was swept away by his people. Now the street belongs to them, the young rebels and artists. Graffiti sprayers and painters make the walls speak. They recount the days of fighting in blood-smeared portraits, the time of anarchy in wild collages, the attempts of liberation from a suppressed sexuality in obscene pictures. Walls become a chronicle of the rush of events; electro pop and rap supply a thrilling soundtrack. Euphoria is followed by overpainting and destruction. Snipers are at work, aiming at the protesters’ eyes. The revolution is no more romantic than this underground art, whose aim is to provoke and take risks, is accommodating.
In one episode, director Marco Wilms draws a line back to the historic murals of the age of the Pharaohs. In a country with a high illiteracy rate, such traditions become a tried and tested medium of revolt. In a wild tour de force through the past two years of permanent and radical upheavals, “Art War” shows the dangerous dance on the volcano as a trip driven forward by the colours and rhythms of the Egyptian painters and musicians.

Cornelia Klauß



Honorary Mention in the German Competition Documentary Film 2013

German Competition 2015
Atl Tlachinolli Alexander Hick

Mexico City, a juggernaut of millions of inhabitants, fighting for survival. Its counterpoint is the mythical Axolotl, which does not undergo any metamorphosis but is losing its biotope. A bold portrait of a city.

Atl Tlachinolli

Documentary Film
Germany,
Mexico
2015
76 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

University for Television and Films Munich, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, A.C.
Alexander Hick
Juan Pablo Villa
Alexander Hick
Julian Sarmiento
Alexander Hick, Ileana Villareal
You don’t have to be a zoologist to understand Alexander Hick’s fascination with an animal singularly adapted to the formation of myths. The axolotl, a caudate, refuses to metamorphose. It will not go ashore but prefers to remain in the water as a larva and still manages to breed and regrow limbs. Even its heart and brain regenerate! The only problem is that its habitat has vanished. An 8-million metropolis is now rising where there used to be water: Mexico City. Alexander Hick asks how humans treat the conquered paradise through insistent images full of cultural historical, religious and mythological references. In fragmented parallel episodes he sketches the inhabitants of this megacity and their struggle for survival. Violence and corruption have hollowed out everything: the family, the institutions, the state. The film does not give us any faith in their self-“regeneration”. On the contrary.

So the axolotl, worshipped by the Aztecs, is the last witness of an oppressed and abused landscape and an age when humans were still capable of building advanced civilisations. An intelligent – in the noblest sense of the word – essay film, and the bold portrait of a city.

Cornelia Klauß
German Competition 2020
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Atomkraft Forever Carsten Rau
A visually stunning and at the same time sober reckoning of the zero sum game between climate change and nuclear disaster: no dramatisation at all and yet deeply disturbing.
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Atomkraft Forever

Documentary Film
Germany
2020
94 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Carsten Rau
Hauke Wendler
Carsten Rau
SWR Südwestrundfunk
NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk
Georg Gruber
Timo Grosspietsch
Andrzej Krol
Carsten Rau
Stephan Haase
Augusto Castellano
Ketan Bhatti
Vivan Bhatti
Hauke Wendler
Carsten Rau
Germany is turning away from nuclear power once and for all in 2022. The risk is too high, the technology unmanageable. Yet the nuclear nightmare goes on: with umpteen thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste, the storage of which isn’t the least bit clear; with the hazardous dismantling of power plants which will take decades and gobble up many billions of euros; and with neighbours who firmly hold on to mankind’s dream of atomic energy – 13 of the 27 nations in the EU operate nuclear power plants and the development thereof continues.
The feature-length documentary film Atomkraft Forever by Carsten Rau takes a profound as well as alarming look at the nuclear nightmare. In grand scenes unprecedentedly portrayed, and in six interwoven episodes: about the absurd amount of effort involved in demolishing a gigantic nuclear power plant; about the quest for a final repository that is supposed to weather a million years and the next ten ice ages; into the heart of the French atomic industry that ridicules the German opt-out as “ludicrous” and wants even more power plants.
Atomkraft Forever doesn’t leave any arguments out, even though they may be unpopular. In the end, the viewer can and must form their own impression of the mania called nuclear power. That has no end.
German Competition 2012
Breathing Earth - Susumu Shingu's Dream Thomas Riedelsheimer

Shingu Susumu, the Japanese creator of kinetic sculptures, and his attempts to realise his “Breathing Earth” project. The power of the elements transferred to art and film.

Breathing Earth - Susumu Shingu's Dream

Documentary Film
Germany,
UK
2012
93 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Stefan Tolz, Filmpunkt GmbH, Leslie Hills, Skyline Productions
Thomas Riedelsheimer
“There’s no such thing as rigid resistance in nature”, says Shingu Susumu, a Japanese creator of kinetic sculptures in the tradition of Alexander Calder and Jean Tinguely. For many years, Shingu has explored the energies of wind and water as an artist. As a seismographer of the state of our world he designs sculptures that face up to the forces of nature, absorb them and are transformed by them. Making the power of the elements visible is his credo. In "Breathing Earth - Susumu Shingu's Dream", Thomas Riedelsheimer accompanies the artist on a worldwide search for a suitable location where an interdisciplinary project initiated by him and called “Breathing Earth” could become reality: a community fuelled only by the natural energy of wind, water and the sun, serving as a place of inspiration for artists, scientists and children and thus becoming a prototypical future laboratory.

– Ralph Eue
German Competition 2015
Café Waldluft Matthias Koßmehl

Now that the Italian tourists no longer come refugees live in this hotel in the idyllic Bavarian Alps. Their lives intersect, sometimes as comedy, sometimes as tragedy. A different kind of “Heimatfilm”.

Café Waldluft

Documentary Film
Germany
2015
79 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Matthias Koßmehl
Matthias Koßmehl
André Feldhaus
Bastian Esser
Andreas Nicolai
Matthias Koßmehl
Till Wollenweber
Tourists used to come by the busload for their place in the sun at the beautiful Café Waldluft, at least during their well-earned holidays. For the past two years, though, the long-established hotel in Berchtesgaden with its view of the “fateful mountain” of the Germans, the Watzmann and its foothills, has accommodated guests from other regions of the world: they came from Syria, Afghanistan or Sierra Leone and have certainly not chosen this alpine idyll freely. Their stay as asylum seekers consists of endless waiting, tiring visits to administrative offices, being homesick and worrying about relatives.

The dynamics in the small town have also changed. But if Matthias Koßmehl opens his film with a traditional Bavarian costume parade in slow motion his only motive is to eliminate the expectations raised by this stereotype. Instead he takes a sober but open-hearted look at the encounters that actually happen in this strange place. There is Mama Flora, the owner, who trusts in God and takes care of each of her protégés, and there is the East German cook who has found her elective home here. Chance encounters with regulars or hikers and the everyday coexistence at the house match a whole range of intersecting lives. The Watzmann, covered in clouds or clearly visible, is always on the horizon. A documentary “Heimatfilm” in which the term home has many facets.

Lars Meyer



Award winner of the DEFA Sponsoring Prize 2015

German Competition 2012
Camp 14 - Total Control Zone Marc Wiese

A childhood and youth spent in a North Korean internment camp, surrounded by terror and death, and the attempt to build a life after that – a moving biography, intensely narrated.

Camp 14 - Total Control Zone

Documentary Film
Germany
2012
111 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Axel Engstfeld
Marc Wiese
Jörg Adams
Jean-Marc Lesguillons
cartoonamoon / Ali Soozandeh
Marc Wiese
Shin Dong-Hyuk was born in one of the toughest prison camps of North Korea in 1983 and grew up there. All he knew was the hell of the camp. He only learned of the world on the other side of the barbed wire when a fellow prisoner told him about his life before detention. Shin decided to escape – but it wasn’t freedom he wanted, because he didn’t even know what that was. He wanted to eat his fill just once, even at the risk of being shot afterwards. At the age of 22, Shin successfully escaped.
Today he lives alone in a small flat in South Korea, where Shin recounts his life in the penal colony in very intense interviews, his traumatisation obvious. But the director goes one step further by not limiting himself to the victim’s point of view. He also brings two perpetrators in front of his camera, people who tormented, tortured and killed. To illustrate life in the camp, he uses delicately drawn, restrained animations and original material. The quiet flow of the narrative and the unobtrusive but atmospheric soundtrack allow the protagonists and their stories the space they need. Gradually the inconceivable is taking shape, for even today 200 000 people in North Korea are living in internment camps.

– Antje Stamer
German Competition 2013
Caracas Maximilian Feldmann

The chronicle of a psychological disorder, told by relatives and friends. The formally rigorous portrait of a family and a society in which everyone has to function.

Caracas

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
54 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jana Beyer
Maximilian Feldmann
Marcel Walter
Luise Schröder
Anne Goldenbaum
Maximilian Feldmann
Dominik Leube
The distance between Germany and Caracas is about 8,000 kilometres as the crow flies. At first glance, this seems enough to forget everything that might sicken the human soul in our part of the world. Even if he doesn’t remember exactly why, Maximilian Feldmann was there, as proven by the few pertinent shots in his film. As for the rest, he decided to find his interlocutors in his home country of Germany and confront them only with the cause of his journey. To this end, he places them in slightly “crazy” frames. “We didn’t think it was an illness for a long time”, a lady says directly into the camera. Another man talks about authenticity as the theme of life. The film only gradually reveals the true identity of these people, to whom you feel surprisingly close, through the way they deal with a disorder. Taking a very personal problem as the point of departure, a formally stringent, in fact authentic portrait of a family emerges and, beyond that, a haunting image of our society. That was definitely worth the journey.

Claudia Lehmann
German Competition 2019
Coming off the Real Time, for a While Anna Friedrich

On the Swedish coast, the farmer Sven Axel lives with his mother, a few animals and a lot of imagination. He dreams of filmmaking and acting. Now he tries out both.

Coming off the Real Time, for a While

Documentary Film
Germany
2019
62 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Anna Friedrich, Ray Peter Maletzki (ROSENPICTURES)
Anna Friedrich
Stef Ketteringham
Anna Friedrich
Anna Friedrich
Anna Friedrich
Andrea Rüthel, André Görbing, Leo Rocker, Maximilian Glaß, Anna Friedrich
Anna Friedrich follows Sven Axel Nilsson into the morning fog. Sven Axel works as a farmer somewhere in Sweden, the sea nearby. But he is much more than that. Friedrich teases it out of him by asking him about his dreams and fears, by wanting to know which of the four elements is his favourite. She hands him the camera because he wants to film stones, so a short but no less spectacular contribution about a mystical rock formation becomes part of this unconventional portrait. But Sven Axel also likes acting and so, without further ado, he becomes this, too: an actor.

Far away from almost any disturbance, the two begin a kind of game in which both Sven Axel’s mother and an area used by the Swedish army for exercises play roles. “For me the world is a quite big globe. ’Cause I haven’t travelled so much in my life,” he says. And adds: “Now, the wide, wide world seems very small. But it’s not true. If you sail, or you’re walking or you ride, it’s quite a big world, it is.” In any case, Sven Axel’s world is an extremely rich one. Anna Friedrich makes it negotiable.

Carolin Weidner
German Competition 2013
Das kalte Eisen Thomas Lauterbach

Weapons in Germany: riflemen and collectors, the parents of the Winnenden victims, a gunsmith with a sense of professional honour. A multi-faceted examination of guilt and responsibility.

Das kalte Eisen

Documentary Film
Germany
2013
89 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Florian Fickel
Thomas Lauterbach
Christian Biegai
Gunther Merz
Ana R. Fernandes
Thomas Lauterbach
Thomas Lauterbach
The volume of arms seized or turned in and annually destroyed by Baden-Württemberg’s arms disposal service is said to be measured in tons. It’s a measure taken to minimize violence, or at least “opportunity” – such as the one taken by a 17-year-old boy in March 2009 when he took his father’s gun to his former school and killed 15 people. Jana Schober and Nina Denise Mayer were among the victims. Jana’s father and Nina’s mother have been actively working to support the destruction of firearms ever since. The amateur shooters, hunters and gun collectors, though, are rather sceptical, sometimes even angry, about this so-called “review of Winnenden”. And then there is the local gunsmith, who makes excellent precision firearms and suffers because nowadays, as he says, his profession is more despised than a prostitute’s. Thomas Lauterbach takes a close look at the personal concerns of his protagonists, giving us extraordinary insights into the different perspectives on the issue. His film examines very diverse facets of the question of guilt and responsibility. But above all, he finds astonishing ways to shake up a specific view of life.

Claudia Lehmann

Das Venedig Prinzip

Documentary Film
Germany,
Italy,
Austria
2012
80 minutes
subtitles: 
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Thomas Tielsch, Filmtank GmbH
Andreas Pichler
Jan Tilman Schade
Attila Boa
Florian Miosge
Andreas Pichler, Thomas Tielsch
Stefano Bernardi
It’s hard to find a more popular city than Venice. But what is a dream for many people has become a nightmare for the residents. This film shows cruise ships and coaches spilling their loads of tourists at the banks of the old town, from which they flood squares, bridges and alleys. The tourists may bring money – especially for the big corporations -, but they are also the curse of this city.
This film follows a few residents, perhaps the last of their kind, through their Venice. They show an infrastructure on the verge of collapse. Food stores are rare; schools and post offices have closed, replaced by ever more hotels and piers for huge cruise ships. “What can you do?” a Venetian woman asks resignedly. “Sell glassware and souvenirs?” She too rents out her house to pay for its refurbishment. Another born Venetian is forced to move to the mainland because he can’t afford the rent. Only foreigners and rich Italians can pay the expensive prices per square meter, an embittered real estate agent concludes. Only 60000 residents still live in the historic city centre today. The same number of people visit the city every day. Venice is degenerating into an open air museum. The film takes a sobering look behind the picture postcard idylls of Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge and the pigeons of St. Mark’s Square.

– Antje Stamer
German Competition 2018
Der Esel hieß Geronimo Arjun Talwar, Bigna Tomschin

The island was a shared dream that failed. Now all its former inhabitants are bobbing up and down in the harbour on their little boats, mourning, scolding, analysing mistakes.

Der Esel hieß Geronimo

Documentary Film
Germany,
Switzerland
2018
80 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Arjun Talwar (Lo-Fi Films)
Arjun Talwar, Bigna Tomschin
Arjun Talwar
Bigna Tomschin
Arjun Talwar, Bigna Tomschin
Franek Kosłowski
“An island always has two sides. One is summer, the other is winter,” a man called Rüdiger says. A fact that makes life on the island more difficult, because farming and surviving are much harder in winter. Other obstacles of living together: the famous “island rage” which is probably found all over the world in every latitude and longitude.

The residents of Store Okseø in the Baltic Sea managed to withstand all this adversity for more than ten years. Then they quarrelled and left the island, almost all of them with a broken heart. Nobody got over this place and what happened there. The island is a subject of conversation, a niggling gap, a throbbing wound. There seems to have been a donkey called Geronimo there, but also countless varieties of roses, coffee and beer for all visitors, music, events, a shared dream. A fixed point in the ocean. Without it, the sailors would have lost their ground, a friend believes. And it’s true, they are all lying at anchor in their small boats now, rocking, drinking, scolding and spying on each other, and thinking.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for the Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize