Berlinale: Programme

Film File


Verriegelte Zeit

Locked Up Time

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In 1990, workers tore down the border post between East and West Germany at Wartha, built not too long before. It was here in 1985 that director Sibylle Schönemann crossed to the West under a system known as “amnesty”, by which the West bought the freedom of convicted East German criminals. One year previously, Schönemann had applied for an exit visa, which led to a prison sentence for “interfering with state activities”. In this documentary, she returns to the prisons where she was held, and documents her attempts to talk to the people involved in her case, including judges, jury members, prison officers, members of the Stasi secret police, her former boss, Hans Dieter Mäde of the state-run movie studio DEFA, and Wolfgang Vogel, the lawyer who arranged her release to West Germany. Not all of them are willing to talk … Schönemann takes an unequivocally subjective approach in laying bare the effects of the system; in dialogue with a fellow prisoner, she talks about the psychological pressure and trauma it produced. In disquieting encounters, her subjects accept no responsibility for the injustices they imposed, and the director is faced with the painful processing of the past.

Sibylle Schönemann

Germany 1991


Documentary form
94’ · Black/White · 35 mm

Rating R0


Written and Directed by
Sibylle Schönemann
Script Adviser
Tamara Trampe, Hannes Schönemann
Thomas Plenert
Gudrun Steinbrück
Tamás Kahane
Ronald Gohlke
Bernd Burkhardt, Alfred Hürmer

Film print: DEFA-Filmverleih in der Deutschen Kinemathek, Berlin