Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall



The Berlin Wall divided Germany and Europe into two, separating families, loved ones, and friends for four decades. But what seemed impossible happened: On the evening of November 9 1989, the first border checkpoints were opened and the Wall was taken down by the citizens in a peaceful revolution, marking the end of the Cold War and the start of a new global political era.

On the occasion of this year’s 30th anniversary, the Goethe-Institut Toronto together with the German Consulate General Toronto will present two German feature films as Toronto premieres, both based on true events, that capture the social upheavals of this historic period. Both films, one by a West German, one by an East German director, raise the question “should I stay or should I go” and shed light on the polarization of German society as well as the risks people are willing to take for their beliefs and rights.

November 9, 8:30pm, free @EUFFTO @TheRoyalCinema: BALLOON (Germany 2018) by Michael “Bully” Herbig, with Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross (THE READER), Alicia von Rittberg, Thomas Kretschmann (DOWNFALL), and others


© courtesy Studiocanal

1979, East Germany at the height of the Cold War. Based on a true story, Günter Wetzel, a bricklayer, and his friend Peter Strelzyk, an electrician, decide they can no longer bear the oppressive regime. The two men and their wives secretly build a hot air balloon from scratch that will carry them and their families over the border fence to freedom. Over 18 months they sew 1,000 square metres of cloth and gather countless weather reports from West German radio, with the Stasi hot on their heels. A nerve-racking battle against the clock with numerous dangerous setbacks begins.

Audience Award at the Washington DC Filmfest for Best Feature Film
On the German Oscar submission shortlist 2019

“One of the most spectacular escapes from communist East Germany, in which two families sailed over the heavily fortified border in a homemade balloon, has been recreated as a thriller for the cinema.” – The Guardian

November 28, 6pm @ParadiseOnBloor: GUNDERMANN (Germany 2018), directed by Andreas Dresen, written by Laila Stieler, with Alexander Scheer, Anna Unterberger, Axel Prahl, Thorsten Merten, Bjarne Madel, Milan Peschel


© photo: Peter Hartwig / Pandora Film

Followed by a panel discussion with German-Canadian journalist Claude Adams, who was the CBC’s “The National” chief European correspondent in the 1980s and covered the fall of the Berlin Wall; York U German Studies Professor Gabriele Mueller; former Executive Editor of the Globe and Mail Jim Sheppard, who covered the fall of the Wall for The Canadian Press; and Nadine Jocaitis.

GUNDERMANN tells the story of a digger driver who writes songs. He is a poet, a clown, an idealist. He is a spy who gets spied on, a do-gooder who doesn’t know better. GUNDERMANN is both a music film and a love story; a drama about guilt and entanglement, about suppression and confrontation. GUNDERMANN is a film about East Germany in the ’80s. It takes a new look back at the GDR, a country that has disappeared. Acclaimed director Andreas Dresen looks at the life of Gerhard “Gundi” Gundermann –one of the most formative artists of East Germany– with sensibility, affection, and humour. Gundermann died in 1998, at the age of 43. Here, he is congenially portrayed by Alexander Scheer (SUN ALLEY), who sang all the songs in the film himself.

6 German Film Awards 2019: Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Lead Actor, Production Design, Costume Design
Bavarian Film Prize 2019 Best Lead Actor
Tromsø International Film Festival 2019 FIPRESCI Prize

“Scheer and Dresen show in ‘Gundermann’ the ambivalence and humanity necessary to understand the dilemmas faced by people who believed in the ideals of the GDR, despite its methods.” – Filmstarts

Both films screen with English subtitles.
More background, details & ticket raffles at www.goethe.de/canada/germanfilm

Program & Media Contact:
Jutta Brendemühl
Program Curator
Goethe-Institut Toronto