A little paradise in the middle of Lower Saxony – Otersen. Seven magnificent farms with their own lake run through the village like a string of pearls. The front gardens are in excellent condition and neighbourly help is very important. There is still a chat in the village shop and over the garden fence. The sports club has almost as many members as Otersen has inhabitants, the little ones are looked after in the kindergarten next door, and at the last farmers in the village they can see calves, baby heath cows and cats and enjoy fruit straight from the fields. A village like in a picture book, it seems. But it was not always like this. When the village shop closed ten years ago, Otersen was in danger of becoming a ghost village. Everyone agreed that a village without a shop had no future. More than 130 citizens raised money, pitched in and built their new village shop. A café was built right next door. Once they got going, the people of Otersen also implemented the next idea. Otersen lies on the Aller cycle path. A ferry was needed – solar-powered, of course. No sooner said than done! Now cyclists can sail into the village from May to October. The “Otsern” – as they call themselves – are not only concerned with maintaining the village shop. The village community and the will to do something for the future of their home are palpable here.
The desperate act of the mother and the death of the father still shape the lives of Janine (23) and Jennifer (21) today. Again and again they ask themselves: “Why did this have to happen?” Even more: “What exactly happened back then?” The girls spend the first years together in the children’s home, then they are separated. Jennifer goes to a foster family when she is five. Janine stays in the home and is later given to another family. She is rebellious, at eleven she starts smoking, tries drugs. Jennifer is less conspicuous. The sisters almost lose sight of each other. It is only in the last three years that they see each other regularly again. Even after their mother’s imprisonment, there is no family life together. Jennifer has only seen her once. Janine, on the other hand, has met with her mother again and again in the past years. The last meeting ended in a scandal. And the mother does not want to talk to them about the crime. What exactly happened on 12 July 1996 – and why? “I think we have a right to know. We are traumatised by the crime and have to live with it. If we knew everything, maybe we could come to terms with it,” says Janine. The film accompanies Janine and Jennifer on their search for answers.
With his own positive attitude, Adnan Maral has made it from a poor Turkish migrant child to a recognised actor and writer. He was born in Eastern Anatolia, grew up in Frankfurt and is now at home in Bavaria. He lives with his Swiss wife Franziska and their three children in an old farmhouse on Lake Ammersee. Adnan Maral feels German, but is proud of his Turkish roots. For years, the actor has fought to be recognised for everything that makes him who he is. He has never lost his good humour. On the contrary, his positive view of the world has allowed him to overcome all obstacles. “I have never depended on the no’s.” He even wrote a book and in it he dealt with his being German – his life’s theme. After his great success as Metin Öztürk with “Türkisch für Anfänger”, he is now allowed to embody German characters on television for the first time.
As the only living beings, we humans have succeeded in colonising the entire earth, developing language and writing and networking ourselves worldwide. What are our evolutionary roots and how do they still determine our behaviour today? For the first time, a TV team accompanies the award-winning photographer Jimmy Nelson on his adventurous expeditions to the last original tribes on earth. With play scenes, the films delve into the history of the evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. He realised that apes and humans have a common ancestor. What connects us with our closest relatives and what distinguishes us from them is explored by Leipzig developmental psychologists. They compare the behaviour of chimpanzees and children and discover the nature of humans in their capacity for empathy and cooperation. With fascinating experiments, psychologists reveal the mechanisms of mate choice and how love came into the world. Body language expert and “mind reader” Thorsten Havener unlocks the secrets of non-verbal communication.
The life of Stalin’s daughter is testimony to an exciting century. In the shadow of the great dictator. The film shows the terrible events of Stalinism from the point of view of a young girl, the daughter of the perpetrator. Through the flight of a woman in search of freedom, the struggle of systems during the Cold War is told. What does it mean to live as the daughter of one of the greatest and cruellest dictators in history? The turbulent life of Svetlana Allilujewa comes to life again thanks to contemporary witnesses, historians, exclusive archive material and re-shoots. In a surprising, moving and entertaining way, a unique look at history in Russia and America is achieved.
70 years after the night of bombing in February 1945, the documentary attempts to provide answers in conversation with contemporary witnesses, historians and archaeologists. Why, of all places, did the world-famous baroque city become the target of such a devastating Allied air strike just a few weeks before the end of the war? What military and political benefits did the British and Americans expect from the destruction of Dresden’s Old Town? How was the Saxon city prepared for the attack and how were the Dresdeners themselves? Why was Dresden’s name able to burn itself into the collective memory and become synonymous with the Allied bombing campaign?
The relationship between dogs and humans is at least 15,000 years old. Enough time for both to grow together. No wonder that all dog owners swear they have a very special bond with their four-legged friend. But how exactly do we know our dog? Do we really understand what is going on inside him? Do dogs really have a special sense for our feelings? Is it because of the close bond with humans that some dogs can’t stay alone or do they just miss their mates? Two narrative threads run through the documentary. Page is new to her family and conquers her world. We see how the little puppy gradually learns to smell, taste and hear and puts himself at the service of his master and mistress. For six months we accompany the little dog and his family. And we follow Monty, who just can’t be alone and drives his owners to despair. He shreds cushions and furniture as soon as his owner leaves the house. Can he learn to get along without his human? With the help of special camera techniques (super high-speed recordings, GoPro surveillance images, gimbal camera system, etc.) we get close to the dogs at eye level and show them from a very special perspective.
Tilman meets his sister Barbara during the filming, who remembers the merciless parental measures all too well. Helga’s parents and relatives were convinced National Socialists. Her uncle, who had already been up to mischief in the SS and was sentenced to a year in prison for “crimes against humanity” in the early 1950s, often beat her. Her mother hit her daughter in the neck with the edge of her hand if she was not “good”. The humiliations are still in Helga’s bones today – and not only in a figurative sense: she has to take painkillers every day. When Helga had her children, she swore: “I’ll never hit you”. Even at school, beatings were part of the routine. It was not until 1973 that the legislature banned corporal punishment in all public institutions and in 2000, after a long debate, the Bundestag decided that children also have a right to a non-violent upbringing at home.
Recycling rates have been stagnating for years, while at the same time the packaging industry is posting record sales. Waste has developed into a lucrative business. The environment hardly plays a role anymore. Yet the Green Dot, introduced in 1991, was aimed at waste avoidance and recycling. The goal was a closed-loop recycling economy – without any waste at all. The results are sobering: each of us still throws away an average of 617 kilogrammes of waste per year. Only Cyprus surpasses Germany in a European comparison. The collection regulations are often absurd. Because even the same things have to be separated. The plastic clothes hanger ends up in the residual waste, the plastic yoghurt pot as packaging waste in the yellow bag. The results are even more absurd: Only one third of the painstakingly sorted waste is actually recycled, the rest is mostly used as fuel in power plants.
Sparnberg behind the Wall. From the transit motorway, you could see the small village in a loop of the Saale before you crossed the border. But it was not only Westerners who could never travel to Sparnberg. The village on the border river was also sealed off from the GDR. GDR citizens could only enter with a pass that had to be applied for weeks in advance – and often the pass was not granted. No exceptions were made, not even for lovers. Sparnberg was supposed to disappear. But from Rudolphstein on the opposite slope of the Saale, one could see directly into Sparnberg. People would furtively wave to each other, relatives would see each other over the fence, and the band of one village would sometimes play in such a way that people in the other village understood: that was a greeting.