Where is the Wall?| 52mins
Director: Elke Sasse & Stefan Pannen | Producer: Stefan Pannen
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: Germany
Autumn 2009 will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While still a powerful presence in the minds of older generations, it is simply past history for young people and visitors to Berlin today. And it is tough to find any traces left on the cityscape.
The "Where is the Wall?â€ documentary focuses on Japanese photographer Takahisa Matsuuraâ€™s search for any and all that remains of the Berlin Wall. He studied in Berlin during the 1980s and took over 2,000 photos of the wall. Now he is engaged in a struggle to reconstruct where it once stood. Driven by the simple desire to see any bits of the Berlin Wall that still exist, he begins at Brandenburg Gate and tours what used to be a strip of no-manâ€™s land between the two Germanys. Matsuura meets a variety of people whose lives are intertwined with the wall in a number of ways: those who trade in the wall - in bulk and in detail, work on and paint it, keep the memory of it alive, remember its construction and shape, or have placed pieces in their garden.
The film retains its central focus throughout on answering the question: "where is the wall?â€ As it progresses, though, this "whereâ€ is transformed into "where has it goneâ€ as the film, strictly from the main protagonist - the wallâ€™s point of view, takes the audience to places outside Berlin and into the wider world at large. These locations that share a connection to the wall or its history, or are home to some of the last remaining sections of it include the CIA in Washington, a menâ€™s toilet in a casino in Las Vegas, a women in Sweden who married the wall in 1978, Jerusalem - where a surviving section is juxtaposed next to the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians, the home of the Hennessy family in South France, a collector of bits of the Wall in Poland, and to Yokohama - Takahisa Matsuuraâ€™s home town.
Moving in an ever-expanding circle from the holes the wall has left in the Berlin cityscape, the documentary becomes a cinematic project of exploration into the traces of this lost object. The wall itself, its presence or absence, is the narrative centre of the film. It carries the story and is omnipresent - both literally and in the mind of the viewer.