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Im Niemandsland

After the fall of the wall, before reunification. While the family fights over their dispossessed home in the GDR, teenagers Katja and Thorben get closer.


IM NIEMANDSLAND wastes no time setting its scene: using documentary footage from the fall of the Berlin Wall, it spends just a brief few minutes with the joyous crowds of 1989 before jumping straight into its fictional story. Katja, a 16-year-old from the West, steps across the sandy strip of No Man’s Land and through a hole in the crumbling wall, passing from West to East in mere seconds. She’s on her way to meet her father, who has decided to take back his childhood home in Kleinmachnow from the family currently living there.

The current occupants don’t plan on going anywhere, setting up an East-West familial feud that plays out over the remainder of the film. Things are further complicated when Katja spots Thorben, son of her father’s foes, peering from her father’s former bedroom. The two immediately become infatuated with one another; they take low-key East vs. West jabs at each other, flirt awkwardly, and generally spend their time trying to escape from family and friends.

The easy symbolism of the Wall is quickly forgiven, as rather than carrying its usual aura of containment and claustrophobia, the Wall instead becomes a literal backdrop to their burgeoning relationship: the two teenagers lounge against its toppled sections, and sit and play in the beach-like sand of the former death strip.

The soundtrack, consisting of alternately bubbly and moody tunes which are often delivered via Katja’s Walkman, evokes the late 80s/early 90s setting nicely while avoiding bubblegum-synth overkill. The documentary footage returns several times throughout the film as well, providing sufficient historical context (in particular, the overnight devaluation of the Ostmark) to serve as both context and exposition for the film’s fictional story.

Eventually, the political and personal tensions boil over, and though the results are chaotic, director Florian Aigner keeps a steady hand on the pacing. In the end, suburban restraint – whether it takes the form of Wessi optimism or Ossi stoicism – is no match for the passion of young love.

John Peck


Deutschland 2018, 92 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Florian Aigner
Author: Florian Aigner
DOP: Armin Dierolf
Montage: Florian Aigner
Distributor: imFilm Agentur + Verleih
Cast: Emilie Neumeister, Ludwig Simon, Andreas Döhler
FSK: 12
Release: 07.11.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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