IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND
THE WEISSENSEE JEWISH CEMETERY IN BERLIN
In the north of Berlin, covered with a primeval forest of trees, rhododendron and ivy - such is Weissensee, the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe that is still being used for burials. Neither the cemetery nor its archives have ever been destroyed – it is a paradise for gatherers of stories.
Tucked away in the north of Berlin, surrounded by walls and hidden beneath a primeval forest of trees, rhododendrons and ivy - this is the Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. It was created in 1880, is roughly 100 acres in size, currently contains 115,000 graves and is still used for burials today. Neither the cemetery nor its archives have ever been destroyed, making it a paradise for gatherers of stories. During their many visits to the cemetery, Britta Wauer and her cameraman Kaspar Köpke discovered a place overflowing with life, visited by people from all ends of the world who bring with them tales of the Jewish, Berlin and German history which embody this site.
"A marvelously entertaining documentary... It is as charming and delightful a film as one will ever encounter." THE HUFFINGTON POST
"The most beautiful film ever made about a cemetery!" CINEMA
"Poetic and exquisite." NEW YORK TIMES
"Astonishing... an indelible must-see film." THE FORWARD
"Inspiring, heartfelt, soulful." JEWAICIOUS
"Stunning... gorgeously photographed." PASTE MAGAZINE
"A playful, poetic and all-around charming documentary." L.A. TIMES
The book on the film
In her research of the Weissensee Cemetery, Britta Wauer came into contact with numerous relatives of the buried, who came from all over the world. Hundreds of letters from New Zealand, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Israel and many other countries found their way to her, stuffed with family photos and moving personal histories and many useful documents. Only a fraction of those were able to fit into the film. And so the idea of the book came about, which documents over 70 stories. The pictures depict historic photographs from archives and private possession, juxtaposed with new, modern shots by photographer Amélie Losier.
Britta Wauer: The Weissensee Jewish cemetery. Moments in History
with photographs by Amélie Losier and an epilogue by Hermann Simon
contains over 140 historic and current photographs, with text in both German and English
published by be.bra Verlag Berlin
Documentary, Germany 2011,
Writer/Director: Britta Wauer
DOP: Kaspar Köpke
Editor: Berthold Baule
Sound: Felix Heibges, Garip Özdem
Music: Karim S. Elias
Line Producer: Karsten Aurich
TV Editor: Birgit Mehler, Dagmar Mielke, Hans-Günther Brüske
Producer: Britta Wauer, Britzka Film
|2011||Panorama Audience Award
Berlin Int'l Film Festival
Jerusalem Film Festival
|2011||Official Selection HotDocs
Int'l Film Festival Toronto
Hamptons Int’l Film Festival
|2012||Prize Jewish Motifs
Int’l Film Festival Warsaw
The DVD with English subtitles was released at Edition Salzgeber.
The soundtrack, composed by Karim Sebastian Elias and recorded with the Brandenburg State Orchestra conducted by Jörg Iwer, was released at Alhambra Records.