The Burning Wall

In much the same way helmer Hava Kohav Beller's Oscar-nommed 1992 docu "The Restless Conscience" cogently charted resistance to the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, her second, "The Burning Wall," is a focused and fascinating history of dissidence in the German Democratic Republic -- known to the Cold War-era world as East Germany.

With:
Narrator: John Dildine.

In much the same way helmer Hava Kohav Beller’s Oscar-nommed 1992 docu “The Restless Conscience” cogently charted resistance to the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, her second, “The Burning Wall,” is a focused and fascinating history of dissidence in the German Democratic Republic — known to the Cold War-era world as East Germany. Following a flurry of fest action, pic will spark strong arthouse biz and simmer in quality TV berths and ancillary.

Bookended by contempo shots showing remaining panels of the Berlin Wall literally out to pasture, pic tells a “story about people, their fates and ethical choices” during the GDR’s half-century from 1949-89. Interviewees include a broad list of players, prominent among them former West German president Richard von Weizsacker, author Gunter Grass, actress Corinna Harfouch, singer Wolf Biermann and Czech activist-turned-statesman Vaclav Havel. The GDR’s repressive political system under general secretary Erich Honecker is probed, and pic really grips during the grassroots drama of the legendary Monday Peace Project gatherings at Leipzig’s Nikolai Church that led to regime’s largely peaceful downfall. Tech credits are solid, with a seamless integration of disparate, rare, exhaustively researched visual elements.

The Burning Wall

Production: A Hava Kohav Theater Foundation production. (International sales: Films Transit, Montreal.) Produced by Hava Kohav Beller. Directed, written by Hava Kohav Beller.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, Betacam), Christoph Lerch, Judith Kaufmann, Harald Klix; editors, Markus Akira Peters, Lawrence Silk; music, Joel Goodman, Elliot Sokolov; sound, Ed Cantu, Udo Radek, Rolf Teigler. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 12, 2002. German and English dialogue. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Narrator: John Dildine.

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