Proposal for a film about The Nadir of the City: Berlin, April 1945

The method of my previous prize-winning documentary, A Berlin Lost, et al. (made in collaboration with Martin Koerber, 1984), was to film a visual representation of a city's greatest years, in this case the Jewish cemetery of Berlin‹Weissensee, and then compose a soundtrack about the life represented in the footage. Since the interviewees, all Berliners, never appear on screen, we were able to produce fresh soundtracks, wholly composed of authentic testimony, in German, French, Spanish, Swedish and Hebrew, as well as English. For a sequel about the nadir of a city, again Berlin, I wish to take the extraordinary evocative aerial footage that American airmen shot of Berlin in April 1945, showing, unlike no other footage known to me, a modern city in ruins. To this footage, which is available in both color and black-white from the U.S. government merely for the cost of copying, I may add footage and/or stills gathered from other sources and/or enhanced by optical processing. (I would avoid footage showing people, for they look like normal people, while Berlin at that time scarcely resembles any city we know.) Once the visual track is composed, I shall interview surviving Berliners about this period, after the bombing but just before the arrival of the Allied forces. Since these interviewees never appear on screen, here, as in the previous film, authentic testimony can be gathered in any language that Berliners speak--German, English, Russian, French, etc., and thus the film made wholly in those languages, with a minimal of subtitling or overdubbing. In the course of making A Berlin Lost, I heard several intervieweers speak of this period in images that were not only stark but unfamiliar to me, testifying as they mostly did to human ingenuity in the face of devastation; and when I saw the aeriel footage, I realized that the combination of the two would make of this unique moment a film that would not only echo its predecessor (in such stylistic characteristics as nonsync sound) but would be valuable in itself. The film proposed here would probably run between 20 and 40 minutes; ideally, in tours it would be shown with the other. Since the moment portrayed was more than fifty years ago, it would be good to do it soon. Sponsoring organizations wishing to know more about the project should contact me. Thank you.