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photo © Mindpuzzle Films

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2014

I (HEART) BERLIN is a project very close to director Anke Schiemann’s heart. A recent arrival in Germany’s capital city, she grew up between three different countries and two political systems (East and West Germany), and this film sees her exploring what motivated American Berliners to leave their families, their belongings, their familiar environments and roots to start a new life in a distant and unknown country.

Her feature documentary debut takes the audience on a journey to 14 different Berlins stateside and introduces their inhabitants, ranging from a funeral home owner through a linguistics professor and cowboys to a fighter jet pilot instructor and a dairy farmer.

The filmmakers meet the Amish lady Maria Schlablach from Berlin (Ohio), who was ex-communicated from her community two years ago and gives interesting insights into daily Amish life and the old myth of “Rummspringerl”.

And then there’s Inge Fischer in Berlin (Georgia), who fled East Berlin on the night of Stalin’s death and emigrated to the USA in one of the first jet airplanes.

Meanwhile, Berlin (Massachusetts), one of the oldest Berlins in the USA, is home to one of the most recent immigrants from Berlin: Kai von Fintel, a professor for linguistics at MIT.

But the film is more than just a road movie and travelogue of the various American Berlins – it is just as much an encounter of Schiemann’s own personal history with migration, dislocation, and relocation as a reflection on the importance of German roots in America today.

She spent the past three years working on the documentary and showed a short version of the film at the opening of the exhibition “Berlins – Made in the USA” at the German American Heritage Museum in Washington D.C. this summer on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Excerpts from this event will be featured in the final documentary.

Genre Animation, Educational, History, Road Movie
Category Documentary
Director Anke Schiemann
Screenplay Anke Schiemann
Cinematography Martin Gooch
Producers Laura D'Asta, Anke Schiemann
Production Company Mindpuzzle Films/Berlin
 German, English
Shooting Dates 2011-2013
With backing from Indiegogo, German American Heritage Museum

Mindpuzzle Films