Opening 12 Oct 2017
The East German theater of actor Otto Wolf (Schüttauf) has undertaken to present a forbidden spoof called Vorwärts immer (always ahead); all preparations are undercover. Otto is rehearsing the main role of Erich Honecker, the General Secretary of the ruling party of former Eastern Germany. Politically, it’s October 1989, and Germany is slowly rumbling towards unification, although that is still in the future. The biggest indications are in Leipzig, where Monday Demonstrations occur. Monday, Oct 9, is no exception, although there is talk that this time, the demonstrators will be pushed back by force. Otto’s is doubly anxious because he knows that his pregnant daughter Anne plans to participate in the demonstration. She is very much pro-West, possibly because her mother left for Western Germany a while ago. By chance, honored leader Honecker is on vacation in the countryside. Otto dons his actor’s Honecker suit, tie, and hat, and shows up at government headquarters. The staff, including politicians Erich Mielke (Andre Jung) and Egon Krenz (Alexander Schubert), fall for this disguise. Will Margot Honecker (Kriegskotte) also accept this imposter as her husband? What happens when the real Honecker (also Schüttauf) suddenly drops by?
This German comedy should be especially fun for viewers living in Germany in the 1980s, who will recognize events and people. It’s amazing how well the actors can portray these politicians. It’s also amusingly satisfying, in retrospect, to see this development, since we all know how it ends, namely that the Leipzig demonstration was completely peaceful, no aggressive tanks rolled into the streets, and exactly, one month later, Nov 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, leading to unification. Producer Philipp Weinges said that it took 13 years to get this film up and running. Resistance came from the West, where people thought that the idea wouldn’t appeal so many years later. Greater resistance came from the East where people were upset at the idea that filmmakers could make fun of them or even satirize their former leader. This could serve as a wonderful example of future films about other former (or future former) leaders in the world. Guess who? More power to film! (Becky Tan)