While today handmade shoes and sun-dried tomatoes are sold around the Water Tower in Prenzlauer Berg, East Berlin, in 1980 it was one of the hotspots for petty crime. A friend of film student Thomas Heise, who was studying directing, has his motorbike stolen here back then. Instead of going to the police, the future filmmaker and his friend decide to explore the local scene in order to find the thieves. Following various rumours, Heise comes across two brothers who seem to be involved in the situation. He’s soon sitting with them in the pub and in their mother’s lounge, getting them to tell him their life stories, accompanying them on their way through the neighbourhood, with the camera always recording everything. After three small practice films, Thomas Heise finds his personal style for the very first time with "Why Make a Film about People like them?" Filmed in a cool cinéma vérité style much like that of Schönemann’s "Sonnabend, Sonntag und Montagfrüh", the documentary focuses on an otherwise ignored segment of East Berlin’s petty criminal milieu.
by Thomas Heise
Germany (GDR 1949 to 1990) 1980