Introduction by Kien Nghi Ha
Ein Herbst Im Ländchen Bärwalde
Gautam Bora, GDR 1983, 29 min, DCP, German with English subtitles
Roughly 100 kilometers from the Polish border lies the German hamlet of Bärwalde. In the early 1980s, Gautam Bora, an international student at the University of Film and Television in Babelsberg (HFF), made the region his subject for Ein Herbst im Ländchen Bärwalde capturing a precise moment in its annual farming season. Stylistically, the film adheres to the HFF’s commitment to social realist documentary, portraying daily life in East Germany in a television-friendly style guided by an admirable clarity of vision. Bora and cinematographer Marwan Salamah’s attention to detail also adds a subtle, indelible sense of the poetic. Throughout we see images of hands, tools, fabrics or specific crops, each quietly communicating as much about life and labor as the first-person interviews they appear alongside. Such directorial sensitivity is equally seen in the space the film offers to not only the men but also the women, who work with equal dedication inside the home or the adjacent barnyards. (JC)
Digitized and restored by the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF in a resolution of 4K+. Funded by the Film Heritage funding program, financed by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Filmförderungsanstalt. Digitization by Pharos – The Post Group in 2021/22.
Bruderland Ist Abgebrannt
Angelika Nguyen, Germany 1992, 28 min, German and Vietnamese with English subtitles, digital file
In the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, Berlin Schönefeld quietly closed its doors forever, with a large part of its infrastructure becoming incorporated into the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Angelika Nguyen’s documentary Bruderland Ist Abgebrannt portrays the airport, now already a relic, as a discourteous heterotopia, where Vietnamese workers are given a terse farewell as compensation for building the economy of the former East Berlin. More than just a document, the film is a testimony to the reprehensible treatment of these workers who, having endured abuse, violent attacks, forced abortions and appalling living conditions, were left without employment once the agreements signed by the reunified Socialist Republic of Vietnam and East Germany became null and void post-reunification. The film depicts life both inside and outside the worker dormitories, with the most persuasive scenes shot inside the airport. German bureaucracy is revealed to be sadly incompetent in performing a respectful valediction to the departing comrades. (KG)
Thanh Nguyen Phuong, Germany 2018. 10 Min, German and Vietnamese with English subtitles, DCP
In Sorge 87, Thanh Nguyen Phuong uses animated fabric prints to remember the contract workers who came to East Germany from Vietnam. Two couples, one Vietnamese, one German, look back at the time when they lived together in the small town of Werdau in Saxony. Sorge (which also means “worry” or “sorrow” in German) was the name of the neighborhood where the filmmaker lived with her parents as a child, and where In 1987, several new buildings were constructed to house Vietnamese textile workers. For these newcomers, everyday life in East Germany played out between this residential district, the language school and the factory and was accompanied by cultural misunderstandings and difficulties in adapting from the outset. And yet this world also included a cinema showing Vietnamese films that were not dubbed into German. The filmmaker went on to create an interactive documentation project (which can be found at sorge87.de) with additional interviews, images and texts to accompany her autobiographically inspired short film. (CS)
Kien Nghi Ha holds a doctorate in cultural and political science and is head of the Asian German Studies Department at the Asia-Orient Institute of the University of Tübingen. He has conducted research at New York University as well as at the universities in Bremen, Heidelberg and Bayreuth and was awarded the Augsburg Science Prize for Intercultural Studies. In addition to numerous publications on postcolonial critique, racism, migration and Asian Diaspora Studies, his most recent edited volume is Asiatische Deutsche Extended. Vietnamese Diaspora and Beyond (Association A, 2021) was published as an expanded new edition. He is currently editing the anthology "Asiatische Präsenzen in der Kolonialmetropole Berlin" (Assoziation A, 2023).