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Germany Divided, Germany Reunited

A look back on Germany's close encounter with Stalinism. For two generations-from 1949 to 1990-a third of the country was "East Germany," or the GDR, and its distinct society had a complicated relationship to its sibling the (West) German Federal Republic.

In the Shadow of Power (Im Schatten der Macht)

Germany 2003 180 min. color Beta SP (two parts, each 90 min.)
In German with English subtitles

In 1974, the year that brought Richard Nixon down, Germany suffered a political upheaval that finished off its leader, Chancellor Willy Brandt of the Social Democrats, and brought the reunification of Europe to a premature halt. Ironically, Brandt, whose place in history is assured by his pioneering policies of détente with the east ("Ostpolitik"), wasn't brought low by the schemes of the CIA but by a spy scandal, launched by the would-be beneficiaries of his Ostpolitik: the German Democratic Republic. His sex life was also dragged into public, making this Germany's Watergate, its Aldrich Ames spy trial, and its Starr Report, all in one. This atmospheric and finely crafted drama of Brandt's last weeks in office continues the trilogy about postwar German history begun by Ziegler Film with last year's "The Publisher."

Director, screenplay: Oliver Storz
Director of Photography: Hans Grimmelmann
Music: Klaus Doldinger
Editor: Heidi Handorf
Executive Producer: Regina Ziegler
Producer: Winka Wulff
Production: Ziegler Film, with NDR, MDR, and ARTE
Cast: Michael Mendl, Jürgen Hentsch, Dieter Pfaff, Barbara Rudnick, Matthias Brandt

Oliver Storz was born in 1929 and worked as a teacher before becoming a freelance literary critic. From 1957-1959 he was a feature editor and theater critic at the Stuttgarter Zeitung followed by work as a producer and scriptwriter at Bavaria Atelier from 1960-1974. Filmography (selected): Der Stadtbrand (1984); Beinahe Trinidad (1985); Das Viereck (1987); Ein naheliegender Mord (1988); Der Unschuldsengel (1992); Christina Seitensprung (1993); Drei Tage im April (1994); Gegen Ende der Nacht (1998).

The Stand-Off (Der Aufstand)

Germany 2003 105 min. color Beta SP
In German, no subtitles

When Stalin died in early 1953, a wave of resistance crossed all borders in eastern and central Europe. By June, East Germany was in a state of rebellion, some of it led by disillusioned Marxists. We revisit those doomed strikers, their allies, and the authorities who felt obliged to stop them, alternating dramatic fiction with present-day interviews with actual participants in the 1953 actions, a device used in Warren Beatty's "Reds." "Aufstand" does the same thing, with the opposite ideological effect.

Director, screenplay: Hans-Christoph Blumenberg
Director of Photography: Tomas Erhart
Music: Nikolaus Glowna, Siggi Meuller
Editor: Florentine Bruck, Ulrich Lenze
Production: CineCentrum Deutsche Gesellschaft
Cast: Jürgen Vogel, Jan Josef Liefers, Stefanie Stappenbeck, Uwe Bohm, Gabriela Maria Schmeide

Hans-Christophe Blumenberg was born in 1947 in Lychen, Germany. He has worked as a film critic, and was editor for Zeit 1976 -1983. He has also directed 23 documentaries for WDR, BRD and ZDF. Filmography: Tausend Augen (1984); Der Sommer des Samurai (1985); Der Madonna-Mann (1986); Saluu Palu (1987); Winterschach (1988); In meinem Herzen, Schatz? (1989); Blue Lady (1990); Camerone (1991); Rotwand muss weg! (1994); Beim nächsten Mal knall ich ihn nieder! (1995); Die Berbrechen des Professor Capellari (1997); Dies verlauste nackte Leben (1997); Bienzle und der Zuckerbäcker (1998); Hirnschal gegen Hitler (1999); Deutschlandspiel (2000); Planet der Kannibalen (2001); Alibi fur Amelie (2002); Der Aufstand (2002)

Long Live Our GDR

Germany 1995 87 min.
In German with English subtitles

This is a very simple but captivating compilation of some of the weekly newsreels that east Germans saw, under the title of "The Eye Witness." The combination of earnest socialism and the rather dorky styles of Communist fashions are predictably kitschy, but there's also respect for the hard work of so many un-ideological souls.

Director: Thomas Hausner