Reclaiming the City
HD, 64’, 2012
Camera: Ruben Agadjanean, Vadim Hancu
Image & Sound Editor: Denis Bartenev
Directed by Stefan Rusu
Through a complex interweaving of field trips and interviews, personal narratives, interventions in public spaces, images, and other sources, the film reveals a number of sites of the New Berlin that uniquely exemplify the contradictions and tensions of social memory and national identity in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Conceived as an investigative documentary that examines urban changes critically, the film is a quest through the dramatic socio-economic restructuring processes and the physical transformation of Berlin following the fall of the Wall.
It involves sociologists, architects, urban activists, curators and visual artists, who analyse the impact of gentrification processes on the public space and question the role of creative community in shaping the city. With the help of Berlin inhabitants, the film looks into the Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Prenzlauer Berg districts, among others—areas that are trapped in a continuing cycle of gentrification.
Aside from it we revisit Tempelhof Airport, haunted by the ghosts of the Cold War; and we climb to the top of Reichstag—rebranded from a symbol of defeat into a temple of democracy. A guided tour brings us to the Mitte district and reveals a hidden history of Marxist activists; and the journey continues as we visit a number of former and still existing squats, in order to compare them with more recent initiatives of urban resistance. Following this path, the film spotlights agents of change—cultural workers and activists—and explores the political dimension of public space.
Commissioned by the 7th Berlin Biennale, produced by [KSA:K] – Center for Contemporary Art, Chisinau. Kindly supported by Goethe Institute, Bucharest; ERSTE Foundation, Vienna; and Romanian Cultural Institute, Berlin.