Who's Afraid of the Bogeyman

Original title: (Wer fürchtet sich vorm schwarzen Mann)
GDR, 1989, 52 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles

A close-up of a small private company that delivers heating coal in the Prenzlauer Berg district of East Berlin. The feisty woman who runs the business does so with humor and understanding, and her seven male employees respect her. On the outside, they seem like tough guys but as they describe their lives, their vulnerabilities come to light. Their discussions range from the building of the Berlin Wall and possibly escaping to the West, to child abuse, suicide, prison and alcoholism. 


In German, the title of the film refers to a rhyme in a common children’s game with roots in the Middle Ages. Now, and for centuries, it has also had racist overtones. We think the English word “bogeyman” best parallels and captures the intentions of the director. —DEFA Film Library, 2021

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