Former East/Former West
in German & English, 62:00, 1994
Made up of hundreds of street interviews done in Berlin two years after the Reunification, Former East/Former West is a vital, surprisingly open, and at times disturbing documentary about what it means to be German at this particular moment in history. For forty-five years, residents of this divided city lived radically different lives, both in terms of ideology and everyday experience. Silver questions the very notion of a shared language, focusing on changing definitions of words for political and economic systems - democracy, freedom, capitalism, socialism - as well as words used to describe nations and identity - nationality, Germany, history, foreigners, home.
Watching the interviewees grapple with their own personal definitions of these ideologically loaded terms, viewers can't help but ask these same questions to themselves. In this way, Silver's project takes on a much larger scope, raising key question facing most countries today - what makes up a nation or a national identity; where do boundaries begin and end, who belongs within these boundaries and who does not..
"Anyone who wants to better understand why it is so difficult to 'merge what belongs together' will want to see this film." Dr. Christopher Stomach, New Hampshire German Symposium
shot, directed, edited by
Annette Maechtel, Anette Rose, Petra Stuben, Arnold Dreyblatt, Shelly Silver
Cornelia Walter, Anita Brown
Jeff Stabeneaux, Konrad Roman through the Standby Program
Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Berliner Kunstprogramm
The National Endowment for the Arts
New York Foundation for the Arts
The New York Film Festival, Video Section, Lincoln Center, NYC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, Mexico; New Documentaries, The Museum of Modern Art, NY; Berlin Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany; The American Film Institute Video Festival, Los Angeles, CA; The American Center , Paris, France; Ostranenie '95, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Dessau, Germany; Muu Media Festival, Helsinki, Finland; Filmladen Dokumentarfilm & Video Festival, Kassel, Germany; Filmhaus, Stuttgart, Germany, Arsenal Cinema, Berlin, Germany, Multimediale, Prague, Czech Republic
Kunstkanaal/The Art Channel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands