Former East/Former West
1994, in German & English, 62 min

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Made up of hundreds of street interviews done 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 questions 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.. 

"Anyone who wants to better understand why it is so difficult to 'merge what belongs together' will want to see this film." Dr. Christopher Stomach, New Hampshire German Symposium

shot, directed & edited: Shelly Silver
assistant director/editor: Annette Maechtel
interviewers: Annette Maechtel, Anette Rose, Petra Stuben, Arnold Dreyblatt, Shelly Silver
translation: Cornelia Walter, Anita Brown
on-line editors: Jeff Stabeneaux, Konrad Roman through the Standby Program
funded by: Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst Berliner Kunstprogramm/DAAD
The National Endowment for the Arts
New York Foundation for the Arts
Hartmut Horst

selected screenings:
The New York Film Festival, Video Section, Lincoln Center, NYC
Museum of Contemporary Art, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, Mexico
New Documentaries, The Museum of Modern Art, NY
Berlin Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany
The American Film Institute Video Festival, Los Angeles, CA
The American Center , Paris, France
Ostranenie '95, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Dessau, Germany
Muu Media Festival, Helsinki, Finland
Filmladen Dokumentarfilm & Video Festival, Kassel, Germany
Filmhaus, Stuttgart, Germany
Arsenal Cinema, Berlin, Germany
Multimediale, Prague, Czech Republic
Exile, Berlin, Germany
le foyer du chateau, Berlin, Germany
COM NU TIES, Seuils/Drempels, ISELP, Brussels, Belgium

selected broadcasts: 
Kunstkanaal/The Art Channel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Planete, Europe