Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982)

Sunday May 19th 2019, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Die Beunruhigung / Apprehension (Lothar Warneke, 1982). 100 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Doors open at 20.00, Jeffrey’s intro and film start at 20.30

These days we have such a prejudiced view of the former East Bloc, as if it was totally a one-sided thing that never changed, and in our arrogance, we demonize it without the slightest idea what we are talking about. Believe it or not, in the former East Germany there was an effort to make a cinema that was free of propaganda – both the so-called ‘Soviet realism’ of Russia, but also the fake romantic propaganda of Hollywood. And in two areas the East German cinema thematically excelled – they were ‘anti-war’ and ‘pro-women.’ So in the GDR there was an entire genre exploring the real-life situation of women. By contrast, in the so-called “democratic” west women were mostly relegated to side roles in movies – often as secretaries or housewives or love interests. Today we have female super-hero films, but they are as ridiculous as the former roles, and are about as empowering as a shot of arsenic. Because of the recent ‘me too’ movement, there have been a few more films highlighting the female situation… but they don’t hold a candle to what was happening in East Germany 40 years ago.

What is this film about? It doesn’t have a huge overarching story, but rather focuses more on a specific situation. Our main character Inge is a mid-thirties social worker and a single mother, magnificently portrayed by actress Christine Schorn. She is told she has breast cancer, possibly malignant. The entire film is about her thoughts and emotions, her conversations and behavior. It is based on an autobiographical novel by the popular GDR writer Helga Schubert. The style is stripped-down, allowing real discussions to occur about real things. In a way, this film is like a cinematic detox session that cuts the audience off from all spectacle, cheap tricks and quick thrills. Personally, I found it exhilarating. It’s a biting flick, made even more heart-wrenching by its unsentimentality, and Its documentary-like edge also makes it valuable as a poignant document of East Berlin in 1981.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net

Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Latest from the DaDa-ER

Sunday August 5th 2018, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Latest from the DaDa-ER (Letztes aus der DaDaeR). Directed by Jörg Foth, 1990, 86 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Door opens at 20:30, film and presentation from 21:00.

After the Berlin wall fell the East-German film scene went haywire, since there was suddenly a small window of time that meant it was no longer under the authority of the previous GDR government, and as of yet were not forced to become commercial by the capitalist system. In this small period they knocked out some truly wild and exceptional off-beat cries of rebellion. This film is a marvelous example. It couldn’t have been made a year earlier when the GDR was still strong, and it wouldn’t have been made a year later when the DEFA studio was bought by a French conglomerate.

What we have here is a avant-garde picaresque story of two East-German clowns rummaging through the ruins of the GDR, and although the clowns seem relieved that everything is loosening up, at the same time everything is falling apart and they also show no interest in the glamor and spectacle of the ‘other’ half of Germany. This film was made at a very acute point in time. The main forces behind this freewheeling creation were two visionary performance artists – Steffen Mensching and Hans-Eckardt Wenzel. The are both the writers and the main actors in this surreal flick about two clowns trying to survive the last days of East Germany. Their journey is almost like Dante’s inferno, as they are let out of prison, and they venture through garbage dumps and down rivers into unbelievable situations. Each stage of their quest is set up like a cabaret piece, complete with songs they sing that describe their plight. They find themselves in an almost no-man’s land, and their observations are critical of both East and West Germany.

The title of the movie is a play of words merging of the word ‘Dada’ and the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). This highly unique flick also surprisingly features Rainer Werner Fassbinder regular Irm Hermann in a cameo role. Another outrageously rare screening of totally forgotten cinema.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net