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photo © MDR/Nik Konietzny

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2014

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is certain to be marked this coming November by a slew of fiction films and documentaries which will be of interest to audiences at home and abroad. UFA Fiction’s TV movie BORNHOLMER STRASSE by Christian Schwochow will be offering a different perspective on events during that historical evening back in November 1989. But the director hadn’t expected to return to the former GDR again after his latest feature film WEST and the TV series DER TURM.

“Former East Germany has a lot to do with my own growing up and is an important part of my identity, so there have always been subjects which don’t let go,” Schwochow explains. “When my parents showed me a treatment, the tragicomic story moved and touched me to such a degree that I said: ‘I must direct this film!’ – especially since it gave me the chance to try my hand at another genre.”

Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg’s book Der Mann, der die Mauer öffnete about the real Lieutenant-Colonel Harald Jäger, who finally decided – on his own initiative – to open the border that night, provided the inspiration for Rainer and Heidi Schwochow’s screenplay along with several long conversations with Jäger, who is portrayed in the film by Charly Hübner as Harald Schäfer.

The former border crossing on the bridge at Bornholmer Strasse has changed beyond all recognition from the images one remembers from November 1989, so the production team was forced to build its own version with wall and fortifications on open fields near Magdeburg. Other scenes were shot in the original border crossing at Marienborn – now a memorial site – and in Berlin at the nearby Swinemünder bridge which has a similar architecture.

“The great thing about this story is that practically everyone in the world remembers how they experienced the fall of the Wall and saw the images from Berlin,” Schwochow says. “But what actually happened for the border to be opened shortly after 23:00 is something that hardly anyone knows. And that’s what makes this film so special.“

Genre Tragicomedy
Category TV Movie
Director Christian Schwochow
Screenplay Heide Schwochow, Rainer Schwochow
Cinematography Frank Lamm
Cast Charly Hübner, Milan Peschel, Rainer Bock, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Ludwig Trepte, Frederick Lau, Ulrich Matthes, Thorsten Merten, Hermann Beyer, Ursula Werner, Robert Gallinowski, Margit Bendokat
Producers Benjamin Benedict, Nico Hofmann, Sebastian Werninger
Co-Producers Jana Brandt, Christine Strobl
Production Company UFA Fiction, in co-production with MDR, ARD Degeto, RBB
Shooting Dates September-October 2013
Festivals Black Nights Tallinn 2014
With backing from Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg

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