Sweep It Up, Swig It Down

(Kehrein, kehraus)

Germany, 1996, 70 min, color
In German; English subtitles
Music (Score)
Production Company


In October 1996, almost 10 years after meeting the three Leipzig street sweepers, director Gerd Kroske visited them again. In the meantime, they had given up their cleaning jobs and lost contact with each other. They struggle to get by, and their lives take place between their apartments, pubs and social welfare offices. Through parallel montage, the director brings his three protagonists together once again and establishes a connection between past and present through quotes from his 1990 documentary film Sweep It Up, exploring what happened to their fears and hopes.


Part 2 of the long observation project known as the Sweep It Up trilogy.



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


2023 Retrospective Dokumentarische Positionen: Gerd Kroske, Berlin, Germany
2004 Retrospective Deutschland, Revisited: II: Dokumentarfilme und andere Experimente, Hamburg, Germany
1999 Runner-up Prize, Yamagata International Documentary Festival, Japan
1997 Marsaille International Festival of Documentary Film, France
1996 Visions du Reel International Film Festival, Nyon, Switzerland

Press comments

“Kroske’s trilogy draws attention to how the subjects are framed. The three documentaries revisit photographs, scenes, and locations from the previous films, but these are superseded by frames that explore the effect of the transition period on the lives of the sweepers at the moment of filming. Whereas the chronicling function produces an extensive take on given lives and locations, the frame produces an intensive account of how lives are lived and locations inhabited at a given moment in time.”   —Ilona Hongisto, “Sweeping Changes in Eastern Europe: The documentary frame in Gerd Kroske's 'Kehraus' trilogy (1990-2006),” NESCUS, European Journal of Media Studies, 2017


"The Sweep It Up trilogy is free of any larmoyance despite its incredibly touching insights into other people's disappointments and living rooms. It shows how small and gray unemployment can make people. But it also shows the efforts, dignity and self-criticism with which Kroske's protagonists fight against the threat of neglect and isolation."   —Birgit Glombitza, Deutschland, Revisited II: Dokumentarfilme und andere Experimente


“The documentary tells ‘of growing impoverishment, of increasingly precarious living and working conditions but also of the efforts and dignity with which the protagonists fight against neglect and loneliness.’”   —Brigitte Mayr, Film Archive Austria


“While interspersing scenes of street sweeping and construction work in present-day with mechanized Leipzig, Kroske presents severe city lives of each of his troubled protagonists. It is hard to gaze upon their gloomy expressions, but the effectively controlled camera neither overlooks them nor forces sympathy upon the viewer. This is a work of strange charm.”   —Sato Shin, Yamagata International Documentary Festival


“In my documentaries I am interested in people and their personal stories. People who are not living on the sunny side of life, those who are lost in our high-speed media TV-commercialization. The conflicts in people's lives let me experience how others handle their piece of life as well as to describe a certain feeling of life far from the elegant gossip and thought of the spirit of the age. Filmic narrative about the everyday effort in these giddy-paced high-risk times.”  —Director Gerd Kroske, 1999


“The director uses parallel montages to bring his three protagonists together once again and uses quotes from his earlier film Sweep It Up to create a link between the past and the present.”   —filmdienst.de



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