Hannes Stöhr’s ‘Berlin is in Germany’ is about a former ‘East German’ adjusting to life in a unified nation

Posted on December 5, 2020



Martin was imprisoned before the fall of the Wall. When he is released in 2001, everything has changed.

Mr. Brooks is perhaps modern cinema’s most well-known instance of a prisoner attempting to rebuild a life after release. The character appears in The Shawshank Redemption (1994). He’s an old man when he gets out. He’s seen the odd automobile as a kid, but now they’re everywhere and he can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry,” he writes in a letter to his friends inside prison. He gets a job bagging groceries, but his hands hurt and the store manager hates him. He wonders if he should commit a crime and get back into prison. Then, he kills himself.

Things aren’t quite so dramatic in Hannes Stöhr’s Berlin is in Germany (2001), which is part of this year’s Urban Lens Film Festival, curated by Bina Paul. The web site describes the event as “a one-of-a-kind international film festival that brings together filmmakers, academics and urban practitioners to dialogue with each other on cinema and the urban experience”. Berlin is in Germany certainly fits in. The Brooks-equivalent here is Martin (Jörg Schüttauf). He was imprisoned in Brandenburg Prison 9, in East Germany, before the fall of the Wall. When he is released in 2001, everything has changed.

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