2019 | Documentary | 45′, 2 x 45′ |  Deutschland '89 - Countdown zum Mauerfall (2019) on IMDb

Countdown to 1961/1989

The opening of the Berlin Wall on the evening of November 9, 1989 came as a complete surprise to East and West Germans as it probably did to the whole world. How has this historic moment come about?

This documentary points out ten milestones – key political and societal events from November 1988 to 89 – which, like a countdown, ultimately led to the opening and fall of the Berlin Wall. The way the film follows this countdown is based on two narrative pillars: an objective, informative approach along the chronology of the milestones with explanatory graphics and expert interviews; and a subjective, emotive approach to related personal stories using diaries and letters from contemporary witnesses to reveal their thoughts, fears and hopes of the moment.

This official, global-political timeline is enlarged by insights into the private lives and feelings of the people who witnessed these historic events. Thus, the viewer can experience the moments WITH these witnesses: the crazy turns, surprising developments and churning emotions as have been documented in diaries, notes, letters and memoirs. Different perspectives are being introduced: of those supporting the GDR and its socialist system and of others opposing it, adding some “neutral” perspectives of outside observers.

Among them are the cameraman Dieter Hoffmann, who filmed the spectacular escape of a GDR policeman and whose images went around the world; the Hungarian actress Kati Szekely, who together with Armin Müller Stahl acted in the first feature film about the Berlin Wall “und deine Liebe auch”; and the photographer Dietmar Riemann, who gave up everything in September 1989 and left the GDR in the hope of a better life in the West.

A second documentary “Countdown to 1961: The Construction of the Berlin Wall”, following the same style and approach as this one, will be coming soon.

“Using original photographs and footage, the film brings to life that period which changed Germany and Europe so fundamentally.”  epd

Bettina Offermann | distribution@looks.film

Executive Producer
Gunnar Dedio

A co-production by
LOOKSfilm, ZDFinfo

In association with
Mediawan Thematics for Toute l’Histoire, Viasat History

Author & Director
Henrike Sandner

Creative Producer
Ramona Bergmann

Photo © US National Archives