The new trailer for Whose city? - a film about the transformation of Berlin from the somewhat run-down and neglected, but highly dynamic and flexible city of the 1990s to today’s ever-more chic and exclusive city. Several documentaries have in recent years been made on this issue. But where most of these films investigate the economic and political power relations in today’s urban planning, Whose city? instead moves back in time to the almost forgotten, but defining architectural disputes of the 1990s. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rest of the Iron Curtain in 1989/1990, and the German unification in 1990, leading politicians and urban planners in Berlin became obsessed with questions of aesthetics and tradition in an attempt to normalize Berlin’s city scape. And according to the film, this helped pave the way for the ongoing neoliberal take-over of the city, since the fundamental question was no longer asked: Who are we building for?
The film represents a meditative journey through Berlin, from Potsdamer Platz in the West to Alexanderplatz in the East, and from the male-dominated conservative urban planning of the early 1990s to the more open-minded, women-led urban planning of today. Finally, the film constitutes a journey into the complexity and richness of urban planning. The arguments and viewpoints that have characterized the Berlin planning field since the early 1990s are listed one after the other, thereby gradually revealing the different issues that need to be considered, if we are to have a city for all.
The film ends in a happy mode. But the question remains, if Berlin will indeed overcome old and new divisions and become a city for all.