Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg: Encounters between May 1 and July 1, 1990

(BERLIN – PRENZLAUER BERG – Begegnungen zwischen dem 1. Mai und dem 1. Juli 1990)

Germany, 1990, 75 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Production Company


The Prenzlauer Berg band Herbst in Peking plays at an abandoned strip of the Berlin Wall and sings “We need a revolution. The system ain’t gonna change, unless we make it change.” This 1987 song accompanied the changes in the GDR, but at this point, this country is already almost history! 


In this documentary the director Petra Tschörtner follows people of all social backgrounds and ages, including professional photographer Harald Hauswald and Aljoscha Rompe from the band Feeling B. She records situations in their daily life in the Prenzlauer Berg district of (East) Berlin and explores the feelings, hopes, expectations and fears people are experiencing during the historic Wende period; first experiences of not predicted drastic political and social changes already entered people’s lives and have caused the disappearance of familiar realties. Some reflect on experiences right after WWII in comparison to what is going on now. 


Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, known in the GDR for its diverse counterculture, in May and June, 1990—the last two months before the German-German currency union on July 1. Director Petra Tschörtner (1958-2012), one of few female East German documentary filmmakers, paints a picture of the confused, hopeful, sometimes anarchistic, nostalgic and melancholic atmosphere preceding German unification on October 3, 1990… less than a year after the Berlin Wall came down.



2019 German American Conference, Cambridge, USA
2019 Prenzlauerberginale, Berlin, Germany
2019 Self-determined. Perspectives of Women Filmmakers retrospective, Berlin International Film Festival, Germany
2012 International Festival for Documentary and Animation Film, Leipzig, Germany
1991 Neue deutsche Filme, Berlin International Film Festival, Germany
1991 International Grenzfilmtage, Selb, Germany


Press comments

“Delving into the hopes and fears of the inhabitants, the film foreshadows many of the dynamics of the next 30 years.”  —2019 German American Conference, Harvard Kennedy School


“I tried to document people’s specific feelings and emotions during this important period. People from this part of Berlin always claimed their freedom and were more critical than others. Besides, I have lived here myself for seven years, and this film is my declaration of love for my neighborhood. The people are at the center of attention, and I am interested in encounters with them and the representation of places. I was not interested in long interviews. I searched for poetic images of things and atmospheres that might disappear soon.”  —Petra Tschörtner, 1991


“The film is a three-months chronicle of the GDR, a country that still carries its name, but no longer exists as before. It is a liminal time! A time of dreamed departure and knowingly experienced disruption, anarchy and helplessness. […] A film about a farewell without nostalgia, but basically sad.”   —Tamara Trampe, 2012


“This black-and-white film is more than a journey through the Prenzlauer Berg. It is a document of the times!”   —Berliner Zeitung


“A foray into an urban landscape in flux.” —Berlin International Film Festival


“A farewell to Prenzlauer Berg, known by the mythos of GDR lifestyle and alternative culture. An important document of a strangely empty, but eventful time between the fall of the Wall and unification.”   —zitty

“A song about home, a sentimental farewell that serves all clichés and is so mercilessly GDR-German that it brings tears to your eyes.”  — André Meier, taz, Dec 14, 1990


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