RECLAIMING THE CITY
Through a complex interweaving of field trips and interviews, archival and found footage, personal narratives, interventions in public spaces, images, and other sources, the film reveals a number of sites of the New Berlin that uniquely exemplify the contradictions and tensions of social memory and national identity in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It is conceived as an investigative documentary, and is a quest through dramatic socio-economic restructuring processes, the physical transformation of the city following the fall of the Wall, and the impact of gentrification processes on public space. With the help of local experts, we look into the Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Prenzlauer Berg districts, among others—areas that are trapped in a continuing cycle of gentrification. We go to Tempelhof Airport, haunted by the ghosts of the Cold War; and we climb to the top of Reichstag—rebranded from a symbol of defeat into a temple of democracy. A guided tour bring us to the Mitte district and reveals a hidden history of Marxist activists; and the journey continues as we visit a number of former and still existing squats, in order to compare them with more recent initiatives and models of urban resistance. Following this path, the film spotlights agents of change—cultural workers and activists—and explores the political dimension of public space.
Commissioned by the 7th Berlin Biennale, and co-produced by KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin and KSAK Center for Contemporary Art, Chisinau. Supported by Goethe Institute, Bucharest; ERSTE Foundation, Vienna; and Romanian Cultural Institute, Berlin.