Beauty & Decay

(Schönheit & Vergänglichkeit)

Germany, 2019, 79 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Music (Score)


The story of three artists with a shared history in the rebellious and creative East German youth scene of the 1980s. Their careers have been marked by their radicalism and openness, as well as their unorthodox and multifaceted view of the world.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, photographer Sven Marquardt made black-and-white portraits of people in East Berlin’s arts subculture, of which he was also part. He has now returned to photography and is once again working with Dominique Hollenstein, one of his favorite models, known as Dome. They also talk with Robert Paris, the ‘pretty’ punk who was one of Marquardt’s models and himself a photographer. Paris’s 1980s photos of East Berlin wastelands and facades recall the radical transformation the city has undergone in the interim. But, as they recollect and revive the past, it becomes clear that the lives of these former rebels still reflect their idiosyncrasies and creativity.




2019 Heiner Carow Award, Berlin Int. Film Festival, Germany
2019 Nominee for the Teddy Award for Best Documentary Film, Berlin Int. Film Festival, Germany
2019 Hot Docs Int. Documentary Film Festival Toronto, Canada
2019 Helsinki Int. Film Festival, Finland
2019 Seattle Queer Film Festival, USA


Press comments

“A fascinating and transporting documentary.” —Seattle Gay Scene
“Interesting archival photos and footage and engaging rapport among the characters give Beauty & Decay a romantic and lively sense of time and place.”  —Kevin Ritchie, NOW Toronto
“Hendel delivers an engaging case study of a unique era of photography by exploring three voices who harnessed the negatives of divided Berlin (no pun intended) and turned them into art.”  —POV Magazine 
“Empathetic + worth seeing. A stimulating and contemplative look back at a bygone bohemia and the present of these artists.”   —


“The contrast between images and clips of intoxicatingly borderline parties, and Robert Paris' statuary documentations of the past—vaguely reminiscent of Bernd and Hilla Becher's grandiose industrial ruins—is what makes the documentary alluring.”   —



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