AN ENGLISH GIRL IN BERLIN
Summary: Spring 1980. A hopeful, young theatre director travels to East Berlin at the height of the Cold War in search of the legendary playwright and poet, Bertolt Brecht. Their meeting in an atmospheric and haunting East Berlin is an intense and life changing experience. Embarking on a thrilling journey of discovery and adventure she breaks free from her middle class background and finds a whole new world – revelation, love and disillusion – but she also finds a freedom and experience that will impact on her life forever.
SYNOPSIS 1980: the IRON CURTAIN has been standing for nineteen years – like a scar across Europe, a wound which even now has not healed. Taking a huge leap of faith EMMA travels to East Berlin to take up BARBARA BRECHT’s invitation to work with the world famous Berliner Ensemble. Emma is ripe for adventure, and anyway she is in love with BERTOLT BRECHT.
Revolution is in the air. Emma finds Berlin a centre of socialism, a hotbed of political espionage with the most efficient standing army in the Eastern Block at the front line of the Cold War. The ever present nuclear threat with the line up of weapons from East and West create an Iron Curtain of fear and suspicion. Emma wants to break through the Wall, “to know the enemy” and to bridge the divide.
A young woman alone in East Berlin Emma comes face to face with the surveillance of the State; going back and forth through the Berlin Wall she is followed, her phone is tapped, she discovers her friend and landlady DORA is a Stasi member. Emma is part of the intimate, everyday lives of those who create the great productions at the Schiffbauerdam Theater. She rehearses on its stage, she eats in the canteen, she takes lovers in the City littered with Brecht’s great loves.
Emma and Brecht’s life journeys interweave. Brecht’s words and works create a living presence; his sympathies appeal to us and his intelligence engages us. Emma moves into his world; into 1920’s Berlin as The Threepenny Opera takes Berlin by storm, to Munich and the rise of the Nazi’s in the beer halls, to his escape from Berlin the night after the Reichstag fire. Brecht travels to Finland, Denmark through Russia to the USA as the German armies advance through Europe. In America he works in Hollywood and is called before the Un-American Activities committee. His return to a war torn Berlin establishes his world renowned Berliner Ensemble in the Russian sector. Brecht the rebel now lives and works in a communist society, part of the status quo. What does he really feel and think about it all?
Emma soon finds in 1980 that real life contradicts the ideals of the Party. Befriended by RENATE, she becomes unwittingly the final piece of the jigsaw in her plan to escape the GDR going with her on a nail biting journey through Friedrichstraße checkpoint out of East Berlin to a new life in the West. The brave new world of the GDR is a prison for people like Renate. Yet Emma finds a whole new world – love, heartbreak and disillusion – but she also finds her freedom and an experience that will change her life forever.
The Director’s intention is to film in High Definition, with period costumes, settings and lighting providing the texture of the film, along with the use of archive footage and live interviews to help create the big set pieces and set the scene historically. Initial conversations are taking place with major named actors and agents: all the indications are that the film will attract headline actors who want to do something inspiring, challenging and dynamic about Bertolt Brecht. [COPYRIGHT Fuschia Films Ltd/SHP 05/13]
Genre: Drama documentary film
Location: Berlin and the UK, also Finland and the USA.
THE TEAM: SUE POMEROY: Writer/Co-Director was Resident Director of the National Theatre in London and Artistic Director of the Warehouse Theatre, Croydon and has directed, produced and written extensively in theatre and broadcast media including Thames TV and BBC throughout the UK and abroad in Germany, Ireland and India. MIKE DIBB: (Camera, Berlin interviews) is an award-winning film-maker who whose work includes films with the writer John Berger, in particular the hugely influential BBC series “Ways of Seeing” (BAFTA Award 1972). Other documentaries include “The Miles Davis Story”, for Channel 4 which received The UK’s Royal Philharmonic Society TV award and an International EMMY in New York.
Interviews have been filmed in Berlin with many of Brecht’s collaborators. The following short film gives a taste of the many hours of footage which have been captured.
(Last updated 13th May 2013)