Short film by Rick Minnich (16mm, color and black & white, 24 min., mono, ©1993-96)
Spurred on by his zealous publisher, a wide-eyed American photographer roams the globe in search of the last remaining Lenin statues. But what he finds isn't exactly what his publisher had in mind. An ironic take on post-Cold War Eastern Europe.
Written, directed and produced by Rick Minnich
Director of Photography: Axel Schneppat
Sound: Christian Eulitz
Original Music: Fernando Ariani
Editor: Markus Schmidt
"Humor and a good eye for recent history mix in Rick Minnich's student film 'The Book of Lenins'. In a self-ironic manner, the Californian, who studies in Babelsberg, tells the story of his search for Lenin monuments for an American magazine. At the climax, he succeeds in finding the head of the statue which once decorated the former Leninplatz in Berlin. His tongue-in-cheek tightrope walk between two worlds was enjoyable."
'The Book of Lenins' from Rick Minnich (Germany/USA 1996) is an outsider's humorous attempt to approach communist history. As an American living in Berlin, Rick Minnich was literally an eyewitness to how the signs, monuments and relicts of socialist history vanished daily. In his film, a photographer is given the assignment of finding the last remaining Lenin statues in the world. With humor and sarcasm, the filmmaker pokes fun at the short-lived media world, and shows how everything can be marketed at one point or another." ("In Search of Lenin" in Nordkurier, Neubrandenburg, Germany, Oct. 18, 1996)
"Rick Minnich's 'The Book of Lenins' is a little diary film, which won a prize at an archeological film festival in Denmark (sic). In a pleasant, laconic manner, Minnich recalls his 1989 journey to Moscow, during which he began photographing Lenin monuments. Back in New York, his self-named manager Harold, is thrilled by the photos, and arranges for a book project with photos of Lenins statues. With his advance, Minnich travels to the vast Soviet Union and takes photographs here and there. In Berlin, he researches one of the most beautiful Lenin monuments, which once decorated the Lenin Square, and which for revanchist reasons - against the will of the masses! - was torn down in 1991. Whether Lenin, who was nearly one hundred meters tall (sic - the statue was 19 meters tall), is still buried on the outskirts of town was not immediately apparent." (Detlef Kuhlbrodt, "Believe in God and Count on Jesus! - Of Good Guys and Bad Guys: Two Films from the 'Berlin'-American Rick Minnich" in die tageszeitung, Berlin, 8.12.1998)
"The Book of Lenins" documents my attempt to make a book about Lenin monuments, a project which began with a series of photographs I took during my first trip to the USSR in 1989 - several years before I struck upon the idea of making a film about my Lenin odyssey. In this film, I have coupled unusual uses of archival and original photographs with live footage in order to document both the voyage which began before the film project came to life as well as the film journey itself. The climax is undoubtedly the exhuming of the 60-foot Lenin statue which stood in East Berlin until 1992, and which the new German government had torn down and buried in a forest near the city limits. It is symptomatic of how the new governments in the former East Bloc countries are dealing with their communist heritage. I hope that my light-hearted American approach to this heavy historical subject will make the film equally accessible to audiences in both the East and the West, and give some insight into what has happened in Central and Eastern Europe since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Leipzig | 1996, Potsdam | 1996, Figuera da Voz | 1996, Sao Paolo | 1996, Bilbao | 1996, Dokumentart | 1996, Grenzland-Filmtage | 1997, Filmzwerge | 1997, Cinarchea International Archeological Film Festival | 1998, Cinema Jove, Festival Internacional de Cine | 1996, FilmVideo 96, 47th Mostra Internazionale di Montecatini Terme | 1996, FAK 97 International Student Film Festival | 1996, Festival of Non-Professional Films | 1997, Blue Sea Film Festival | 1997
Jurypreis, Cinarchea | 1998, 2nd prize “Baltic Herring” | 1997
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