Part of the permanence of right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi violence in Germany is the equally constant mantra that the causes and perpetrators are to be found on the "fringes of society“. On the contrary, since the pogroms of the post-reunification years, there has been a creeping acceptance of xenophobic and German-nationalist thought patterns among large parts of society, so that a government that started out with liberal promises is currently making national-opportunist migration policies and deportation centers acceptable. But let's turn back to the 1990s. In 1993, Winfried Bonengel's “Beruf: Neonazi” (Profession: Neo-Nazi) and Thomas Heise's “Stau – Jetzt geht's los” (Traffic Jam – Now it's starting) were released in cinemas: two films that were uncomfortable to the max because they allowed neo-Nazis to have their say, and thus juxtaposed the images of bawling mobs with those of eloquent people who thought about things more than one would have liked to hear. Although he was dubbed a “sympathizer” for “Stau”, Thomas Heise did not let go of his subject, visited his protagonists in Halle-Neustadt again in 1999 and filmed a sequel, titled NEUSTADT (STAU – DER STAND DER DINGE) (Neustadt (Traffic Jam – The State of Affairs)), in which the initial theme of "drifting" to the right already seems outdated. "Normality, everyday life, is largely on the right," as Heise soberly put it in the catalog text for the 17th Kassel Dokfest (2000). "Exhaustion was the basic impression in Neustadt. That was a considerable difference to 1992. The city has crashed. You can feel the poverty, very directly. That doesn't just mean a lack of money." In 2007, Heise expanded the Neustadt project into a trilogy with “Kinder. Wie die Zeit vergeht” (Children. How Time Flies). For this screening of NEUSTADT (STAU – DER STAND DER DINGE), Heise will be a guest to talk about a film project which patiently documented a social failure that continues to reverberate today. Has time really passed? What is normality today?
Conceived and moderated by Tobias Hering
Guest: Thomas Heise
The conversation will be in German.