Kurzfilmtournee 2020

Progress in the Valley of the People Who Don't Know

Germany 2019 • documetary • German, Arabic • 67 mins
Special award of the German Short Film Award for films with a length of more than 30 to 78 minutes
director: Florian Kunert
camera: Joanna Piechotta
sound: Stefan Voglsinger
editors: Ian Purnell, Florian Kunert
protagonists: Christian Tuschling, Gerda Tuschling, Majed Alsaed, Hasan Jamjoom, Heike Kunert, Uta Müller, Mohammed Hamdan, Salem Alkadro
production: Stefan Gieren mit der Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln und Florian Kunert

The Saxon "Fortschritt" combine had been producing agricultural machinery for the GDR since the 1960s and was located in the so-called "valley of the unsuspecting", where no Western television could be received. Overshadowed by xenophobic riots in Dresden, director Florian Kunert stages an encounter in the ruins of the combine between young Syrian refugees who now live there and former factory workers. In a self-organized integration course Kunert lets his protagonists revive memories of their lost homeland. In doing so, he creates a remarkable document of cinematic memory by montage of archive material showing the former friendship between Syria and the GDR and contemporary footage of Pegida meetings.

Jury statement
Integration is a difficult process. What can art do? The documentary filmmaker Florian Kunert initiates an experiment. In Neustadt in Saxony, he brings together former factory workers from the agricultural machinery combine "Fortschritt" with young Syrians. The refugees, who came from the destroyed Aleppo, are temporarily accommodated in the former factory, which is now only a ruin. Two generations, two worlds. But the film is interested in the opposite. By means of a daring method, the director reveals the similarities. Episodes from everyday life in the GDR are re-staged, transformed and re-declined. This is surprising, funny, comical - and sometimes a tightrope walk that the director knows how to balance. Florian Kunert creates moments of humanity and hope in the cross-fades between reality and staging, biography and world history. No one can invoke cluelessness any more.

Florian Kunert

Studied documentary film directing at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, diploma in media
Arts at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. In the form of performative memory works he searches for alternative narratives of the past to create new perspectives on complex, social phenomena of the present. He lived in Indonesia for a year and shot the film OH BROTHER OCTOPUS, which celebrated its world premiere at the Berlinale Shorts 2017 and subsequently won the German Short Film Award. His first feature film project FORTSCHRITT IM TAL DER AUHNUNGSLOSEN celebrated its world premiere in the Forum section of the Berlinale 2019 and is currently in festival exploitation.