Dissolution 2 – Brotherland has burnt down
VOLK, THE GERMAN PEOPLE, YES, WHAT DO WE MEAN BY VOLK?
DO YOU ALSO MEAN, LIKE, THE FOREIGNERS
AND ALL OF THEM TOO?
FEMALE CHARACTER IN ›FORMER EAST/FORMER WEST‹
Bruderland ist abgebrannt (1992) and Former East/Former West (1994) were both filmed in Berlin in the early 1990s and we can look to these films made some decades ago, as windows into what it was like then, but also to locate within them seeds of what’s happening now. Former East/Former West casts a wide net in capturing what it means to be German a few years after the Wende; it includes a polyphony of voices, positions and shifting tensions. Bruderland ist abgebrannt focuses more narrowly on the Vietnamese invited as guest workers to the GDR, who find themselves unemployed and with no legal status; they now have the ability to become pregnant without an enforced abortion, but with no way to support a family. Both films implicitly ask what a regime change brings, and for whom? We are formed, in part, by the place we live – its communal belief system, restrictions and freedoms, which we accept or struggle against. What does it mean when we’re forced to leave, or when the place that we’re living in changes irrevocably? Who is in the position to perceive these changes? And who has power over these changes?
There is a direct overlap between the films, when a woman in Former East/Former West states: »Fiji’s (Vietnamese) can stay here, but not Yugoslavians, Turks, Arabs and all that scum« bringing a brief and questionable moment of solidarity. When filming Former East/Former West, I found these implied prejudices deepest between the so-called »Ossies and Wessies«. Words used, such as »laziness«, »stupidity« and even »smell«, are most commonly associated with racism, and race here played no part. Clearly, prejudice can shift to any person or people, for any pretext whatsoever – race is a convenient and horrific one of many.
– Shelly Silver
In cooperation with the office of equal opportunities of Academy of Media Arts Cologne