46. Internationales Filmwochenende Würzburg vom 30. Januar bis 02. Februar 2020

Retrospective “Plus Minus 89” – Films from and about the last days of the GDR

2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in the GDR and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reason enough for the organizers of the International Film Weekend Würzburg to look back and present concise films from this period of upheaval in the retrospective series “Plus Minus 89”. For it goes without saying that films were also made in the GDR in 1989 and 1990, and they reflect the leaden heaviness of the last years of real existing socialism as well as the mood of departure, but also the uncertainties after the end of the SED dictatorship.

In four films from these years, guests of the International Film Weekend can experience this period. One of them is “Die Architekten” by director Peter Kahane. Produced even before the “Wende”, he describes the agony of the last GDR years with unusual openness, using the example of a young architect who is to project a cultural centre in an GDR city. Tragic for the film is that it only came to the cinemas in the spring of 1990, when the lamented conditions were long since history. It should be all the more interesting to see it again today, because “Die Architekten” shows in an exemplary way how unavoidable both the economic collapse and the capitulation of the socialist model of society of the other German state was.

Kurt Naumann in “Die Architekten”, 1990

The transition from the socialist state with its fixed rules to a self-determined, but also uncertain existence in a free country is traced in two other films in the “Plus Minus 89” retrospective: “Jana und Jan” and “Stein“. “Jana und Jan” shows the injustice system of the GDR by means of the so-called Jugendwerkhöfe – prisons for young people that did not correspond to the human image of the SED regime. Stein” is about an actor who, under the impression of the Prague Spring, which was crushed by Soviet troops, has retreated into decades of internal emigration and, at the end of his life, still becomes a witness to the successful revolution of the GDR citizens. The fourth contribution to the Retrospective comes from a completely different genre: The episode “Mit dem Anruf kommt der Tod” from the series Polizeiruf 110 was produced in 1991 by Deutsches Fernsehfunk, the successor to GDR television, and shows authentic Wendezeit colour embedded in a highly exciting crime story. In the story, which is based on a true case, a man tries to murder children by giving them dangerous tasks over the phone with great persuasive power.

One man who has quite consciously experienced and helped shape this period is the actor Jörg Schüttauf. Born in 1961 in Chemnitz (then Karl-Marx-Stadt), he established himself as a sought-after actor in GDR cinema in the second half of the 1980s and was able to build on this success nationwide after reunification. Television viewers know him as the Frankfurt Tatort commissioner, but he also appeared in numerous movies.

Jörg Schüttauf appeared in the films “Die Architekten” and “Mit dem Anruf kommt der Tod”. He will be a guest at the International Film Weekend and will talk to the audience about his experiences during the revolutionary period in the GDR.