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.
The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery of Berlin was created in 1880 and contains more than 115,000 graves. It seems like a fairytale forest in the middle of the German capital, yet it is a very lively place. On its huge grounds, Argentinean families search for the tomb of their predecessors, restorers paint graves with sparkling stars of David, whilst the bird of prey expert counts the hawks’ fledglings. A lush, surprising and utterly absorbing journey into the lively stories hidden among the stones of Weissensee.
"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
During her research about Weissensee Jewish Cemetery, Britta Wauer came in contact with families from all over. Hundreds of letters and e-mails reached her from New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, the USA, Australia, Israel and every corner of Europe. Most of them were filled with family pictures, moving stories, fascinating descriptions and useful documents. Only five stories out of those hundreds appear in the film. A little comfort is that the be.bra publishing house were pleased to issue an accessory book which contains over 70 stories with text in both German and English.
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.