A Place in Berlin

(Konzert im Freien)

Germany, 2001, 86 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Editor
Camera
Music (Score)
Music (Performance)
Producer
Production Company

Synopsis

Like a fossil, the Marx-Engels Forum, an ambitious East German monument project, occupies a central historical spot and desirable real estate in the middle of Berlin’s new center. In this experimental documentary, Jürgen Böttcher takes a critical look at how the meaning of monuments changes.

 

In 1973, a team of artists was commissioned by GDR leaders to create a sculpture park commemorating the international workers’ movement. From 1981 until its unveiling in 1986, the director interviewed the artists and documented the project.

 

At the end, almost 16,000 meters of film disappeared into the archives because officials, who had expected a heroic monument, were disappointed by the result and people rejected the Forum. Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Böttcher revisited his own material, creating a filmic collage from his 1980s 35mm footage and new video material of visitors’ reception of this anachronistic monument.

 

Günter “Baby” Sommer (perc) and Dietmar Diesner (sax) interpret the space and images with their improvisational jazz.

Awards

2002 Shown at the Vienna International Film Festival
2001 Shown at the Berlin International Film Festival
2001 Shown at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival

Press comments

“A fascinating meditation on the Marx-Engels monument in Berlin, past and present!”
The Concise Cinegraph

 

“A requiem.”
— Enno Patalas, Der Tagesspiegel

 

“A grand happening, a grotesque farewell to a former life and an old world.”
— Ralf Schenk, film historian

 

“Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer and Dietmar Diesner are major voices, creative, fearless and masterful musicians.”
— Glenn Siegel, WMUA / Solos & Duos Jazz series

 

“A striking nonfiction essay.”
— National Gallery of Arts, Washington DC

Availability

Special features:
  • Director's Biography & Filmography
  • The Artists of the Forum
  • Producing the Film, by Frank Löprich
  • Original handwritten script by Jürgen Böttcher (with English translation)
  • Gallery: The Monument, a 1975-1986 photo series by Sibylle Bergemann
  • "Fire in the Park - Music in the Film," by jazz journalist Bert Noglik
  • "Marx, Engels, and the Crisis of Communist Triumphalism in East Berlin," by historian Brian Ladd

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