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Die Familie

In his documentary film DIE FAMILIE Stefan Weinert interviews those left behind by people shot trying to flee East Berlin and asks what happened to the perpetrators.

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Two films in November raise similar questions. LABYRINTH OF LIES takes on the story of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials that brought “normal” people to trial for their role in the Holocaust. Stefan Weinert's documentary film THE FAMILY deals with the fatal shots fired on the inner-German border between 1961 and 1989. In the case of the latter, these perpetrators argue that they only followed orders. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Wall, Weinert addresses a piece of GDR history that has, until now, been left relatively untreated. He interviews family members of those shot along the Berlin Wall and lets them tell their stories: they return to the “scenes of the crime,” visits graves, read the Stasi files and even confront the perpetrators. Irmgard Bittner lost her son when he attempted to escape at the Berlin Wall. Even today she doesn’t know what exactly happened and where her dead son’s body was taken. Weinert shows his sensitivity while filming when one mother at first can’t come to terms with the suspended sentence of her son’s murderers but then later speaks of her revenge fantasies. In the second half of the film Weinert focuses on the social connections, which grants the relatives’ depictions greater power. A former justice minister who followed the trial of border guards in the 1990s doesn’t understand how so many were easily were integrated into the new system. And as one relative wryly commented: “history repeats itself.” THE FAMILY is an appeal for breaking through the wall of silence.

Eileen Reukauf

Credits

Deutschland 2013, 92 min
Language: German
Genre: Documentary
Director: Stefan Weinert
Author: Stefan Weinert
DOP: Frederik Walker, Benjamin Greulich
Montage: Ruben S. Bürgam
Distributor: Basis-Film-Verleih
FSK: 12
Release: 06.11.2014

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