A biography set in East and West Berlin about the life of a defiant woman who unites the political and the private in the poetry of her song lyrics. Bettina Wegner is often reduced to just one of her many songs, “Sind so kleine Hände” (“Children”) and her collaboration with Joan Baez. But here in Lutz Pehnert’s portrait she is given the space she deserves. Taken to court at the age of 21 for protesting against the violent end of the Prague Spring, she soon became part of the lively music and literature scene around Thomas Brasch and her husband Klaus Schlesinger, all the while pursuing her critical stance as an individual and as an artist. In her husky voice, she describes – even humorously – her inner turmoil and her determination not to give up her home in the GDR, even when she was no longer wanted there. Written in 1980, her song “Über Gebote” (“About Rules”) serves Pehnert as a narrative thread while he uses archive material from East and West Germany, audio recordings from her trial as well as Wegner’s own words and music to guide us through her life. In this way, the film gives a new audience the chance to discover singer-songwriter Bettina Wegner – who really only ever wanted to sing love songs.
by Lutz Pehnert
with Bettina Wegner
Germany 2022 German 107’ Colour & Black/White Documentary form


  • Bettina Wegner


Written and Directed by Lutz Pehnert
Cinematography Anne Misselwitz
Editing Thomas Kleinwächter
Sound Mixing Michael Kaczmarek
Sound Johannes Schneeweiß
Make-Up Britt Schäfer
Producer Susann Schimk

Lutz Pehnert

Born in Berlin, Germany in 1961. After an apprenticeship as a typesetter, he worked for the “Junge Welt” daily newspaper and wrote for several magazines. Since 1995, he has been a freelance writer and television director making artist portraits and history and travel documentaries. His film Brand, about a group of alcoholic workers in a Brandenburg steel mill, was presented in the 1997 Berlinale Forum. His multipart documentary DDR Ahoi!, about the history of East German seafaring, won a Grimme Award in 2011 and his film Partisan screened in the 2018 Panorama.

Filmography (documentaries)

1996 Brand; co-director: Matthias Ehlert 2006 Ma vie: Wolfgang Kohlhaase 2008 Deutschland, deine Künstler – Katharina Thalbach 2010 DDR Ahoi!; multi-part documentary 2014 Die Ostdeutschen; documentary series 2015 Ostrock – Zwischen Liebe und Zorn 2016 Grenzland: Vom Baltikum bis zur Akropolis · Immer bereit! – Junge Pioniere in der DDR · Deutschland, deine Künstler – Katrin Sass 2018 Partisan; co-directors: Matthias Ehlert, Adama Ulrich · Berlin – Schicksalsjahre einer Stadt; documentary series 2019 Ostfrauen; multi-part documentary 2020 Wir Ostdeutsche 2021 Wer wir sind – Die DNA des Ostens · Die Fahrradfahrerin von Sanssouci – Jutta Hoffmann 2022 Bettina

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022