Drawing a Line

(Striche ziehen)

Germany, 2014, 96 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Dramaturg
Editor
Camera
Production Company

Synopsis

1986, West Berlin. Five resettled members of the Weimar underground punk scene in East Germany plan an exceptional art project that they call White Line. They will paint a white line that encircles the west side of the Berlin Wall as a political statement to the normalization of the existence of the Wall in the West. While the concrete Wall remained gray and austere on the east side, the west side had been colorfully painted by artists, turning it into a tourist attraction. The five artists believe that this obscures the meaning of the Wall as a deadly and dangerous border that divides a city and a country. 
The documentary tries to reconstruct this unusual art project that was interrupted by East German border guards who took one of the artists through an almost invisible Wall door to the East where he was imprisoned. The artists hadn’t considered that the actual border ran about 9-13 ft on East German territory, placing the “west side” of the Wall on GDR soil. But how did the East German guards know about their project? Almost three decades later, the artists find out that one of them was a state security informant.

 

 

The film is also available for a Digital Site License for educational partners. Please find more information here.

 

 

 

Commentary

Frank Willmann, one of the five artists, revisits the White Line project in 2011 while working on a book with author Anne Hahn. During their research, they find out that one of the participants was an East German secret service informant, and that his report to them resulted in cutting the art event short. Filmmaker Gerd Kroske picks up on these findings for his 2014 documentary film. He not only reconstructs the complex friendship between the five young men back in the 1980s in East Germany, but also brings the five back together to work through the consequences of betrayal, repression and the possibility of forgiveness three decades later.

 

Awards

2023 Retrospective Dokumentarische Positionen: Gerd Kroske, Berlin, Germany
2019 ARD Program Prize
2018 Nominee Grimme Award
2015 Viennale, Vienna Int. Film Festival, Austria
2015 DOK Leipzig, Germany
2015 achtung berlin Film Festival, Germany
2015 Hamburg Documentary Film Week, Germany
2015 Neisse Film Festival, Germany
2014 Audience Award Duisburg Film Week, Germany

Press comments

“Gerd Kroske shows the friends from back then trying to understand and deal with their own past. In conversations with all those involved, flanked by rich archive material, Gerd Kroske explores the depths of betrayal, repression and forgiveness. He insists without discrediting. Drawing a Line impressively succeeds in making tangible the ongoing balancing act that anyone who seriously wants to deal with betrayal and forgiveness has to perform.”   —DOK Leipzig

 

“Wildly moving Super 8 images of the Berlin Wall, the outer skin of which had been transformed into a huge graffiti canvas since the 1980s. A few young men who had recently been expatriated from Weimar to West Berlin did not like this banalization and on 3 November 1986 launched a project to symbolically destroy the colorful pop wall with a continuous white line. An action that was not as harmless as it sounds. After all, the ‘West’ side of the Wall was also officially GDR territory. And on the second day, the GDR sent a raiding party to arrest one of the activists. […] Documentary filmmaker Gerd Kroske tells of a crazy West-East German art action, of punk life in provincial Thuringia and of rebellion, conformity and betrayal.”   —Silvia Hallensleben, epd-Film.de

 

“These German-German events have the dimensions of a Greek tragedy.”   —Tagesspiegel

 
“Kroske artfully reconstructs a Stasi story."   —Freitag

 

“Even Kroske's inquiries reveal empathy for the perpetrators and victims. What is touching about this research into lost time is its openness.”   —taz

 

“What distinguishes Kroske's film is that it does not harmonize where wounds have not healed to this day.”   —filmdienst.de

 

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