Climate change, the most pressing problem of the Anthropocene, threatens all life forms on this planet. Is literature able to help us grasp the dimensions of this challenge and maybe even contribute to a shift in attitude?
In the US, a new literary genre has been developing for a while now, so called climate-fiction, in reference to science-fiction, called cli-fi in short. The genre has only recently been gaining in importance in Europe. Probably the biggest contribution to the genre comes from multiple award winning Norwegian author Maja Lunde, whose three novels exploded onto the international book market. Her books have been translated into 40 languages and have sold more than 2.5 million copies. In her climate novels, she illustrates what we could expect, if we don’t change our lifestyle and economic strategies. Even though her future scenarios are frightening, in the end there is always a glimmer of hope – maybe that is one of the reasons for her incredible success.
In the footsteps of Jewish heritage in Europe
2021 will mark the 1700th birthday of Judaism in Germany. Jewish life, with its synagogues, customs and traditions, would change the face of German and European cities over the next centuries. Only in the late 18th century, after the French Revolution and the Civil Code, an age of emancipation begins for European Jews – and with it, the existence of Jewish artists becomes visible for the first time. They push the boundaries of aniconism, rooted in orthodox judaism, and hold their ground self-confidently. The age of change and self-assertion ends in the holocaust.
Today, Jewish culture is present again in everyday Europe. But what role did Jewish identity play for Jewish artists, in the past and today? How much did they identify with their religion, their customs and rituals? How much did they “illustrate” Jewish everyday life? Were they in touch with their roots or did they deny them? Are there even any traces of Jewish life left in Germany and Europe after the Shoah? The film will examine these questions and illustrate the search for answers by way of very different, Jewish, visual artists of the past 200 years.
Learning and playing in the Yurt
Kyrgyzstan is a country in the mountainous part of Central Asia. It is half the size of Germany and is sparsely populated. Almost half of the Kyrgyz population lives a simple life and only 20% of the country is suitable for agriculture. That is why many nomads and their animals move up to the meadows of the high plains at over 3500 meters altitude during the summer months – of course together with their kids – and for a few years now, there are special kindergartens and schools in the Yurts of the elevated plains of Kyrgyzstan.
A documentary series
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO world heritage convention, the documentary series will link the past to the present and examine how the spirit of individual sites can remain vivid, valuable and inspiring for future generations. The series focuses on four important European cultural heritage sites: Arles, Aachen cathedral, St. Petersburg and the Amalfi coast. It will explain why each site has been put under the special protection of the international community, what it means for these world heritage sites, how sustainable they are and what they have to offer to future generations. The agreement, which was ratified by 193 nations, on November 16th 1972, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. The agreement produced a list of monuments to be declared “world heritage sites”. These have been protected by the member states since 1975. The idea of a world cultural heritage belonging to all of humanity was revolutionary.
The cultural history of museums
Museums have been a place of education, edification and self-discovery for over half a millennium and are currently experiencing a fascinating metamorphosis: from royal quirks to multi-billion dollar prestige objects of states, cities or business magnates. The fight for media attention leads to spectacular architecture and programming in order to generate a distinctive modern image. A cultural history.
The Great Northern Expedition
Almost 300 years ago, at the beginning of the 18th century, European scientists, commissioned by the newly founded Petersburg Academy of Sciences, started on a long and adventurous journey into the Russian Far East – Siberia, a large, unknown, cold land full of secrets. The results of this Great Northern Expedition continue to be of great importance today. The result will be a two part documentary series.
The big misunderstanding?
In times of digitalization, multitasking is not only considered to be a great challenge but also appears to be unavoidable for many. The film puts the myth of effective multitasking to the test and exposes it as a huge misunderstanding.
Multitasking is both a challenge and a myth. The ever-increasing workload in complex working environments and the constant real time communication with the help of modern media clashes with the human brain and its limited attention span. What has scientific research discovered about multitasking and how can we create a work/live environment better suited to our brains?
Scientists of various disciplines have come to almost the same result: Multitasking only works to a certain degree for humans. The attempt to meet multitasking expectations damages our brain, our performance and our health; apparently also long-term. Different studies in various business sectors show that multitasking even has a negative effect on productivity, causing up to one quarter in lost revenue.
Nobody really knows the exact details of Special Action 1005 until today. How many people were killed? It was at least tens of thousands, murdered right at the beginning of the Nazi Regime, killed and buried carelessly. The people living around the burial sites are still tormented by their existence to this day. Until today many of the anonymous mass graves remain undiscovered, but over 70 years after the end of the war activists in France and Germany are once again investigating the crimes committed under the name of “Special Action 1005”.
The Nazi-Regime did not only meticulously plan and execute mass murder, they were just as thorough when it came to destroying any evidence of their crimes. While they simply put bodies in mass graves in the early days of the war, they became increasingly fearful that their horrific crimes would be discovered, when the tide was turning against them and the red army was approaching. The systematic precision the bureaucrats of mass murder applied in erasing all traces of their crimes and the cruelty in which they did it, remains to be a mostly unknown chapter of the war. Many next of kin of the murdered Jews, Sinti, Roma, partisans or simply civilians, are still waiting to find out where their relatives were buried. And they still hope to one day have at least a dignified memorial site.
Tracing the Slavic Soul
The Mecklenburg Lake District is Europe’s largest region of lakes that are connected by canals and rivers. Also known as the Land of the Thousand Lakes, the region has three national parks (more than any other region in Germany), eight nature parks and hundreds of nature reserves. This film explores Mecklenburg’s picturesque landscapes, its diverse flora and fauna, its cultural highlights and every day life by the water – by boat, on foot or by bicycle.
Power reflected through portrait paintings
For centuries, white artists have predominantly painted powerful white people. Michelle and Barack Obama set a new precedent, when they commissioned two African-American painters to paint their official presidential portraits. Using this break with tradition as a starting point, the film shows the diverse aspects of the international debate surrounding the representation of marginalized groups in art. It does so by looking at paintings by predominantly African-American artists, who are increasingly claiming their place in art history with their outstanding works of art.
Towards the end of the 18th century, a new cross-genre cultural movement is starting to gain influence in Europe. The Romantic Era has begun. For the first time in art history societal developments are met with skepticism by a large number of artists, poets and musicians. The industrial revolution has changed everyday life dramatically on the European continent. Social structures erode as faith and family bonds lose their cohesion. Individuals who until then were sheltered within society are increasingly becoming directionless and rootless. The parallels to the here and now are obvious. While it was the steam engine that changed the realities of people radically two centuries ago, it is the digital revolution today. With this topical background the film reminds us of the multi-facetted and, until today, fascinating art of the Romantic Era. It describes it as a European phenomenon and portrays its artistic and ideological spectrum at the hands of different painters such as Delacroix, Wenezianow and Caspar David Friedrich.
The Story of Bautzen Prison
To the dismay of its inhabitants, the city of Bautzen is still associated with its two former prisons, Bautzen I and Bautzen II. At the time, however, only very few people were aware of what was happening behind the prison walls. The dramatic events in and around Bautzen prison, 30 years ago, during the year of German reunification (1989/90), are reason and cause to remember its eventful history.
The Gorals are an almost forgotten pastoral tribe that has maintained its traditions like no other ethnic group in Europe. They are admired for their culture, their close affinity to nature, their craftsmanship and for being down-to-earth; but by no means do they want to become a living and breathing open-air museum.
Most senior citizens do not think about where they want to spend the last years of their lives ahead of time. They prefer to live at home as long as possible. But unfortunately this wishful thinking is often met with a different reality.
The film accompanies people who are self-determinedly and actively searching for a new home for the last years of their lives. We follow them and their families looking for a suitable residential facility. They share their thoughts, expectations, desires and hopes with us.
The ancient civilization of Mesquito
What secrets are hidden in the jungles of Honduras? Archeologists want to prove the existence of an ancient civilization over 1000 years old. The lost city is located in an area where only very few people are living today. Starting from their base camp in the east of the country, a German-Swiss expedition led by the German Archeological Institute, the university of Zurich and the museum Rietberg (Zurich) will explore uncharted territory with the help of modern technology. They will turn the area upside down scientifically in order to reveal its archeological secrets. They already know that they will be entering an area that was densely populated in the past.
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