Opening 31 May 2007
When Harald Siebler, director and film school teacher, announced plans to film the nineteen paragraphs of the German constitution (Grundgesetz), his friends rolled their eyes and said, “Yeah, and then you can do the phone book.” Luckily for us, he was serious and he, with the help of a jury selected from the film business, sifted through 480 entries from young German directors. They found the ones which would project the idea of *dignity, individual freedom, equality, religion, freedom of speech, family, education, right to assemble, work, privacy of the postal system, liberalness, right to strike, right to privacy, ownership, state property, residency, right to petition, basic rights, and guarantee of basic rights.
He also searched for financial aid and good German actors and cities to host the film teams. The results of the nineteen, six-minute films are worth it. Several are quite serious, e.g., a mistaken case of child abuse; a young boy caring for his drugged mother; a child raised to serve the state in Handmaiden’s Tale style; a policeman body-searching a homeless person. Some were humorous such as a young man who lives for his inheritance or a man who sings songs in a bus about the joy of submitting petitions so that he can process them. Others concern prejudices against foreigners, women’s lib, and a young girl trying to join a convent. My favorite is one under the category of “liberalness” in which a young couple buys a house. Their friends pity them for paying good money for such a place because trains roar by within inches, every hour. This young couple couldn’t be happier because both of them love trains and both are deaf and dumb.
Harald Siebler hopes that 40 million Germans will see the film (and not just political science classes). He believes that, like him, most Germans do not know all nineteen paragraphs of their own constitution. I am happy to say that there is much talent among German film makers and we will surely see more of them in the future.
*19 paragraphs in German: Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar; Freiheit der Person; Gleichheit vor dem Gesetz; Freiheit des Glaubens; Freiheit der Meinungsäußerung; Schutz der Familie; Das Schulwesen steht unter Aufsicht des Staates; Versammlungsfreiheit, Recht auf Bildung von Vereinigungen zur Wahrung der Arbeitsbedingungen Briefgeheimnis; Freizügigkeit; Freie Wahl des Berufes; Unverletzlichkeit der Wohnung; Eigentum; Vergesellschaftung von Grund und Boden; Ausbürgerung-, Auslieferung-, Asylrecht; Beschwerde- und Petitionsrecht; Verwirkung von Grundrechten; Gewährleistung der Grundrechte. (Becky Tan)