Shelly Silver b. 1957
Former East/Former West (1994)
Former East/Former West
in German & English, 62:00, 1994
1994, 62 min, color, sound
Made up of hundreds of street interviews shot in Berlin two years after the Reunification, Former East/Former West is a vital, surprisingly open, and at times disturbing documentary about what it means to be German at this particular moment in history. For forty-five years, residents of this divided city lived radically different lives, both in terms of ideology and everyday experience. Silver questions the very notion of a shared language, focusing on changing definitions of words for political and economic systems - democracy, freedom, capitalism, socialism - as well as words used to describe nations and identity - nationality, Germany, history, foreigners, home.
Watching the interviewees grapple with their own personal definitions of these ideologically loaded terms, viewers can't help but ask these same questions to themselves. In this way, Silver's project takes on a much larger scope, raising key question facing most countries today - what makes up a nation or a national identity; where do boundaries begin and end, who belongs within these boundaries and who does not..
shot, directed, edited by
Annette Maechtel, Anette Rose, Petra Stuben, Arnold Dreyblatt, Shelly Silver
Cornelia Walter, Anita Brown
Jeff Stabeneaux, Konrad Roman through the Standby Program
Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Berliner Kunstprogramm
The National Endowment for the Arts
New York Foundation for the Arts