From Us to Me

East Germany then and now: remembering life in the GDR

From Us to Me For 45 years East Germany was ruled by a strict and secretive communist government, on the geographical edge but political heart of the Soviet bloc. In 1987, a British film crew gained unprecedented access to film everyday life inside the GDR - but only the side of life the state let them see. In this doc the crew return to the places and people they visited then, to see how their lives have changed and how they recall the "workers' paradise".

"I wanted to live, to be left alone, to enjoy peace!" Britta Kitzerow-Klakow recalls her despair with an intrusive regime that invaded every aspect of one's life. "I wanted to keep out of the Party nonsense. I was always annoyed with it." She revels in the freedom of the western world, which celebrates individuality over conformity. But not everyone shares her enthusiasm.

"On 3 october 1990, German Unity Day, I was sent into early retirement." Karl-Heinz, a former fisherman, remembers the unification with regret, and he is not alone in doing so. With the economic prosperity of the west came job insecurity, which severely affected people like Karl-Heinz who suddenly found himself without a job. This was the case for many former comrades who miss the stability of the time; "there was no unemployment then. It did not exist."

But for some, there was ultimately not much difference. "For me, little has changed", explains Sylvia, who remembers the time with indifference. "All the things in the shops I couldn't buy then, because I wasn't rich, I still can't buy today." In a stoical manner, she relates how life's challenges remain the same regardless of the political regime in charge.

German reunification brought with it different things for different people. For those whose lives were shaped behind the iron curtain, such sudden political upheaval had a seismic impact for better or for worse. This insightful documentary explores the lives of ordinary citizens of the opaque German Democratic Republic, as well as how their lives and prospects have changed since.
FULL SYNOPSIS

The Producers


The Amber collective came together in 1968, out of a meeting of film students in London. Throughout the 1970s the group explored the North of England, its changing communities and disappearing industrial landscapes in both film and photography.

In 1985 it released Seacoal, its first feature film. Other feature films include T Dan Smith (1987), In Fading Light (1989), Dream On (1991), Eden Valley (1994), The Scar (1997), Like Father (2001), Shooting Magpies (2005).

The group have also made some 20 or so documentaries and shorts, including Launch (1973), Byker (1983), The Writing in the Sand (1991), The Pursuit of Happiness (2008) and Today I'm with You (2010).

The Amber collective came together in 1968, out of a meeting of film students in London. Throughout the 1970s the group explored the North of England, its changing communities and disappearing industrial landscapes in both film and photography.

Making The Film


We spent about 6 months trying to track down our original participants through Facebook and local press and amazingly, found that almost all of them were still there and agreed to be in the new film. What was even more astonishing was the openness and affection with which they invited us into their lives. One of them said: “We have waited 25 years for someone to come and ask us these questions.”

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