OFF WAYSAt midday on the 21 December, 1989, the “Einstürzende Neubauten” – a group of musicians that had become something of a cult and a successful West-German export to boot – made their way from West Berlin to play their first ever concert in the then capital of the GDR, East Berlin. It is a long and convoluted path from Kreuzberg to Lichtenberg, to the Wilhelm Pieck Hall at the state-owned factory ‘VEB Elektrokohle’ – because at this point, the Wall is still in place and the border is still patrolled by guards …
Filmmaker Uli M Schueppel, who is a friend of the band, accompanied the “Einstürzende Neubauten“ on this very special day. Special because the musicians, who had all grown up in West-Berlin, had never before received permission to appear in the GDR. Special, in that their concert had come about as a result of the ministrations of GDR dramatist Heiner Müller, with whom the band’s frontman Blixa Bargeld was acquainted; Müller also introduced the band’s performance. Müller’s backstage appearance with a French delegation including the then Cultural Minister Jack Lang is just one of the bizarre sideline events of this exceptional day. But above all this is a concert for the people of the GDR who associated so much with the artistic concept behind the “Einstürzende Neubauten”, an audience that now, unbelievably, found itself face to face with the band – and the West – in the flesh.
What happened in East Berlin during that day in 1989? And what happened afterwards? Schueppel’s film is a temporal kaleidoscope documenting
a legendary concert and the people who attended it, as well as the musicians’ memories and their lives today. A journey into Germany’s history on the brink of the collapse of Communism.