OFF WAYS (Elektrokohle - Von Wegen)

At noon on December 21st, 1989 the members of Einstuerzende Neubauten – a band then hailed as West-German cult export – hit the road in West Berlin for their very first concert in East Berlin, (still-) capital of the GDR.And as yet, it is a long, unusual way from Berlin Kreuzberg to Berlin Lichtenberg, into the Wilhelm Pieck-Hall of the industrial plant VEB Elektrokohle. As yet there is the wall and as yet there are border controls…Filmmaker Uli M Schueppel, a friend of the band, accompanied Einstuerzende Neubauten throughout this ‘extraordinary’ day – extraordinary for the musicians who for the most part had grown up in West Berlin and who previously had never been granted an official permit to perform in the GDR. Extraordinary, because the concert in the evening had been pulled off through mediation of GDR playwright Heiner Mueller, who was friends with Blixa Bargeld at that time, and who also would introduce the concert with a short speech. The fact, that he appeared backstage with a delegation of French ministers (amongst them then Culture Minister Jack Lang) belongs to the bizarre side occurrences of this day… But most notably, this concert is also an extraordinary event for the GDR audience, which associated much with the name and concept of Einstuerzende Neubauten, and which was suddenly - facing the band and the West - confronted with their projections.What happened back then, on that particular day – ‘in between’? This film now conflates these ways of West and East. 20 years later some of the concertgoers trace those paths that led them to the concert hall of the VEB Elektrokohle.Sometimes from around the neighbourhood, sometimes from Berlin’s surroundings, or even from barracks 300km away – retrospectively they reflect this way, which on the one hand led them to this once-in-a-lifetime pop event, and at the same time to the German reunification.Out of these various Western/Eastern ways to the concert emerges a temporal mosaic of Berlin on this ‘extraordinary’ day – a journey back to a German ‘in between-time’.

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