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Culture

Berlinale Devotes Film Series to Fall of Communism

A special series of films at this year's Berlinale film festival commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Scene of two women from the movie After Winter Comes Spring

The documentary "After Winter Comes Spring" depicts the lives of East German women circa 1988

Under the motto, "After Winter Comes Spring," documentaries, animations and feature films made in eastern Europe in the years leading up to the fall of communism are to be screened at the Berlinale film festival.

According to the Museum for Film and Television in Berlin, at the time of their production, the films gave an honest view of life under totalitarian regimes, auguring the changes that lay ahead.

The documentary film "Christine," which gives its name to the series of screenings, by the director Helke Misselwitz, gives an insight into the lives of women in the German Democratic Republic.

In the film, a coal factory worker scrubs the dirt from her body every evening before returning home to her son and her disabled daughter. The single mother speaks into the camera, saying society ridicules her and considers her daughter a burden.

Films barely passed censors

Scene from Little Valentino showing a man standing against a poll, smoking

"Little Valentino" depicts a single day in the life of a petty thief named Laszlo

"Jadup and Boel," a film by East German director Rainer Simon, is a fictional story about comrade Jadup, the mayor of an East German town, who realizes mistakes about his past and asks critical questions about the present. The film, produced in 1981, was the last to be made by the East German DEFA film studios, which were closed down by the authorities shortly afterwards.

The site later reopened as Babelsberg Studios, a name which graces several productions at the Berlinale, including opening film "The International."

Other productions include Bulgarian film "The Contess," about the unusually liberal atmosphere at the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1968, and the consequences for a young woman trying to make the most of these freedoms.

Directors sensed change was coming

Scene from The Needle of a group of people

Moro tries to help his girlfriend kick a morphine habit in "The Needle"

The animated film "Tale of Tales" was produced in the USSR in 1979. The director, Juri Norstein, fought for years to make this personal reconstruction of the tragedies of the 20th century. Soviet censors eventually banned its original title, "The Little Grey Wolf Will Come," suspecting that it contained hidden messages. The series also includes films from Romania, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria.

Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlinale film festival, says the series shows "how artists can seismographically sense changes ahead of time and incorporate these" in their films.

Berlin is the focal point of anniversary celebrations marking the end of communism, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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