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Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2014

As Germany prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, Cologne-based production company BROADVIEW TV looks back at the event – on the evening of 30 September 1989 – “which was, in many respects, the starting point of the beginning of the end of communist East Germany,” according to award-winning producer Leopold Hoesch.

“What we are doing in this film is to see what exactly happened after the moment when Germany’s iconic Secretary of State Hans-Dietrich Genscher comes onto the balcony of the German Embassy in Prague on 30 September,” Hoesch explains. “As he starts to announce that the people in the Embassy’s garden are to be allowed to leave for the West, the rest of his speech is drowned out by general shouting and cheering.”

Directors Sebastian Dehnhardt and Matthias Schmidt are reunited as co-directors here for the first time since their 2009 award-winning film DAS WUNDER VON LEIPZIG - WIR SIND DAS VOLK, about the Monday demonstrations in autumn 1989. Using never-before-seen archive material and elaborate reenactments, the film shows how the East German communist regime forced the refugees to take a roundabout trip, “a kind of ‘walk of shame’ back through their former ‘Heimat’, before they finally arrived in Hof so that the authorities could say that these refugees were dissidents who were kicked out of the country. Officials of the Stasi boarded the train and took everyone’s passports away. The refugees didn’t know if they really would make it to the West; all they had was Genscher’s promise.”

While the documentary will naturally feature interviews with such figures as Genscher and the former diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, “the focus is,” as Hoesch notes, “on the East German people who were on the train that night as well as on the stories of people who even jumped on the train as it was passing through East Germany. We asked people to come forward if they recognized themselves as passengers in archive footage which we had put on the internet and after making appeals via Europe’s largest tabloid Bild Zeitung and regional newspapers.”

ZUG IN DIE FREIHEIT will be broadcast at an evening prime-time slot on 3 October 2014, the Day of German Reunification, after a special screening in Prague on 30 September 2014.

Genre History
Category Documentary
Directors Sebastian Dehnhardt, Matthias Schmidt
Screenplay Sebastian Dehnhardt, Matthias Schmidt
Cinematography Torbjörn Karvang
Producer Leopold Hoesch
Production Company BROADVIEW TV, in co-production with MDR, ARTE
Original Version
Shooting Dates November 2013-May 2014
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung

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