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Film Festival Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Fall of Berlin Wall

Published: October 1, 2009

As part of the German Embassy’s nation-wide “Freedom without Walls” campus initiative commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, CSULB will present a film festival during the month of October titled “Ostalgie – Stories from the GDR.”

The four films will screen on successive Wednesdays, beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 7, with a screening of the 2003 film “Goodbye, Lenin.” All four films will be shown in Lecture Hall 151 (LH 151) and begin at 6:30 p.m. The screenings are free and open to the public.

The film festival’s title, “Ostalgie,” refers to nostalgia for life in Eastern Germany before the fall of the wall. “There have been lots of problems with reunification,” explained Nele Hempel-Lamer, an associated professor of German at CSULB. “Some people look back to the Communist era and feel nostalgic for the East. We called the film festival ‘Ostalgie’ to provide a backdrop to the challenges Germany faced and still faces due to its recent past as a divided nation.”

After “Goodbye, Lenin,” the series will continue on Oct. 14 with a screening of 1995’s “The Promise” followed by 1973’s “The Legend of Paul and Paula” on Oct. 21. Closing out the series on Wednesday, Oct. 28, will be 1968’s “I Was Nineteen.”

The series will tell stories about the German Democratic Republic as East Germany was officially known. “The festival is both a way to introduce this time period to students with no historical context as well as remind those who can still remember what it was all about,” Hempel-Lamer said. “The GDR was a country that existed for 40 years in the middle of Western Europe. Now it’s gone.”

With the exception of “Good Bye, Lenin!” none of the films have been major releases in the United States. The first two films were directed by West Germans after the fall of the Wall and the last two were directed by East Germans before the fall.

“The film series is a great opportunity for American audiences to see life during the Cold War from a German perspective,” she said. “Most all of the films enjoy pop cult status in Germany, but few people here will have seen them. We will have short introductions to the films before the screening to provide some context to the audience, and we are also planning question-and-answer sessions after the viewing of the films.”

Hempel-Lamer pointed out that many CSULB students are not even 20 years old, which means the Wall fell before they were born.

When Hempel-Lamer recently screened a 26-minute documentary about the fall of the Wall, she said students were impressed. The documentary chronicled the days leading up to the fall of the Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. It showed the courage of the demonstrators in the GDR who risked their lives in what turned out to be a surprisingly peaceful revolution.

“I want our students to be inspired to become agents of change,” she noted.

For more information about the “Ostalgie” film festival, contact Hempel-Lamer at 562/985-2666 or Rebecca Hermann, student coordinator of the film series.