From Us To Me

From Us To Me

Amber Film & Photography Collective (Ellin Hare, Richard Grassick)


»Asked about the openness and emotional power of the interviews, one of the participants said: ›We’ve been waiting all these years for someone to come and ask us these questions.‹«
Amber Collective

1987. Amber Films, an artist collective from Newcastle, is the first and only film team from the UK to be invited to the GDR. They meet a brigade of women crane drivers from the Warnowwerft shipyard and members of the Warnemünde fishing co-operative. How do people live under socialism? What does their everyday life look like? What do they wish for the future? Big Brother is watching: A spectre of authority is lurking in the background of the interviews, ensuring that the cinematic flirtation with Western countries does not get out of hand.
Two years later, the GDR is history, as are most of the workplaces of that period. After 25 years, the film team returns and meets the people they portrayed back then. Together they reflect and take stock, talk about the enormous changes and how they coped with them. They look at film clips and photos from 1987 and also recall the self-censorship during the first shoot. »An English camera crew? What do they want to hear? Who’s going to see the film?«

The view from outside and the re-evaluation aspect are strong points of the film, but also the fact that its interest goes beyond just the people, also enquiring into the fate of the two identity-forming businesses, which were closed or sold off in capitalist Wild-West style after reunification.



Amber Film & Photography Collective (Ellin Hare, Richard Grassick)


Ken Patterson


Britta Klitzerow-Klakow, Sylvia Putzki, Karl-Heinz, Erna Ruschau, Dorothea Hiller, Magdalena & Gerhard Junge, Silke Nohr, Simone & Ralf Pawlitz, Cornelia Ulbricht, Lothar Eschke


Ellin Hare, Peter Roberts, Amber Films


Richard Grassick, Beatrix Wupperman, Moving Films


Amber Film & Photography Collective

Amber Film & Photography Collective (Ellin Hare, Richard Grassick)

The Amber Collective came together in 1968, after a meeting between film students in London. Throughout the 1970s the group explored the north of England, its changing communities and disappearing industrial landscapes. Films grow out of photography projects, and vice versa; often they run in parallel. In 1985 the collective released Seacoal, its first feature film, which was then followed by many others. In 2011 the interlinked narrative of Amber’s films and collective member Sirkka- Liisa Konttinen’s photographs was recognised in UNESCO‘s Memory of the World register as being of national cultural importance in the UK.

Films by Amber Film & Photography Collective (Selection)
Shooting Magpies 2005 | Like Father 2001 | The Scar 1997 | Eden Valley 1994 | Letters to Katja 1994 | Dream On 1991 | The Writing in the Sand 1991 | Fading Light 1989 | Seacoal 1985 | Launch 1974