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SYNOPSIS (English) - For SYNOPSIS in French, Spanish & Italian pls. scoll down or click here!


Today, more than 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fight for the prerogative of the historical interpretation and political relevance of the former
GDR (German Democratic Republic) seems more intense than ever.

Mario Roellig, born 1967, was raised in a family loyal to the state and to the ruling SED party. Mario worked as a waiter at the restaurant in the transit zone of the Berlin Schoenefeld Airport in the GDR. In 1985, on a vacation in Budapest, Roellig began an affair with an older male politician from West Berlin. After meeting more-or-less secretly in East Berlin and in Budapest, Roellig decided to flee to the West, but got unlucky and, in 1987 was detained for several months in the Stasi detention centre in Berlin Hohenschoenhausen. Six months after his release, the West German government purchased his freedom and he received permission to leave the GDR. In 1999 he ran into his former Stasi interrogator and suffered a nervous breakdown.

Being gay, resilient, young and conservative, Mario Roellig became one of the youngest and most in-demand witnesses to the atrocities of the GDR. He guides groups through today’s memorial site in the former Stasi (GRD State Security Services) prison where he was once incarcerated. Roellig speaks to school classes all over Germany and has been invited to universities abroad. He thinks he has told his story more than one thousand five hundred times.

Roellig is not an intellectual. Yet he claims that his personal history made him become a political person. He often talks about ‘freedom’ and the advantages of capitalism. Roellig takes part in picket lines where he confronts GDR aficionados – and is equally confronted by people who still believe in social utopias and communist and socialist models of society that go beyond the current German social market economy. These people also claim they are talking about freedom, yet somehow they seem to speak very little about the former GDR.

The film unveils a strange atmosphere of monologues, misunderstanding and failures to communicate – as seen from the perspective of Mario’s very personal story, which unfolds throughout the film. He still awaits an apology from his tormentors while simultaneously being ridiculed by some hardliners who accuse Mario of playing the ‘victim card’.

The process of coming to terms with the past has just begun.


Even now, twenty-five years after German reunification, historians are still debating whether the GDR was an illegitimate state. In his current work, Jochen Hick, several of whose films have screened in the Panorama, tells the story of ex-GDR citizen Mario Röllig. Hick accompanies him as he visits his parents and his former colleagues but also the sites of his attempted flight from the GDR and his incarceration. Röllig was arrested in Hungary in 1987 for attempting to flee the German Democratic Republic; in 1988 the Federal Republic of Germany purchased his freedom. Today he regularly talks about his experiences in schools; he also volunteers as a guide at the former Stasi prison in Hohenschönhausen in Berlin that is now a memorial. Hick stays close to his subject at all times but remains neutral, instead observing and asking questions from behind the camera. In confrontations with GDR-sympathisers Rölling is accused of distorting history and it becomes abundantly clear that the battle to have the last word on how the history of the GDR should be interpreted is riddled with taboos and fraught with individual traumas. (from Berlinale catalogue, (c) Berlinale)

Synopsis French/français

French snopsis soon here!

Synopsis Spanish/español

Esta película cuenta la historia de Mario Röllig, un ciudadano de la República Democrática Alemana que fue detenido en Hungría en 1987 por intentar escapar. Los simpatizantes de la RDA acusan a Röllig de distorsionar la historia cuando cuenta su experiencia como preso.

Synopsis Italian/italiano

Anche oggi, venticinque anni dopo la riunificazione della Germania, gli storici stanno ancora discutendo se la DDR fosse uno stato illegittimo. Nel suo lavoro attuale, Jochen Hick, regista spesso presente nella sezione Panorama, ci racconta la storia di un cittadino della ex-DDR Mario Röllig. Hick lo accompagna mentre visita i suoi genitori e i suoi ex colleghi, ma anche i siti del suo tentativo di fuga dalla DDR e della sua incarcerazione. Röllig è stato arrestato in Ungheria nel 1987 per aver tentato di fuggire dalla Repubblica democratica tedesca; nel 1988 la Repubblica federale Tedesca acquistò la sua libertà. Oggi parla regolarmente nelle scuole delle sue esperienze e fa anche volontariato come guida presso l'ex prigione della Stasi nel quartiere Hohenschönhausen a Berlino, che ora è diventata un memoriale. Hick rimane vicino al suo protagonista in ogni momento, ma rimane neutrale. Durante alcuni confronti con simpatizzanti della ex-DDR Mario Röllig è stato accusato di distorcere la storia. E' evidente che la battaglia per avere l'ultima parola su come dovrebbe essere interpretata la storia della DDR è ancora piena di tabù e irta di traumi personali.



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