With “East!” We dare to take on a new cinematic challenge. The idea: a place, a town clerk, a commoner immersed in a place not many people know: Zeitz in Saxony-Anhalt. Once a thriving industrial site that “fell deep” after the fall of the Wall, today it is an El Dorado for creative young people drawn to a city where one in five apartments is empty.
Director Maxim Melnik knows the East. Zeitz was born and raised in Ukraine, and East Germany has always represented “the West” to him. So he approached the city from two directions when he set off for Zeitz from Berlin-Mitte, where he lives today, with a camera and a healthy dose of skepticism in his backpack. His cell phone recordings and photo diaries attest to a year of intense search for the city’s identity.
The city with its “dead eyes” and its bricked and broken windows seems to him at first desolate and empty. The first thing he tries to connect with the Zetzer family is a relic of the industrial age: the Zekiwa stroller.
People are increasingly opening up to him: the “apple” man in the orchard; Christine, the kind soul of the taxi headquarters; Fabian and Leonie, two teenagers who show him the “lost places” in their city; Line and Christian, a Danish artist couple who collect city sounds like precious finds; Mr. Strauch, in whose yard dozens of clocks tick to the quiet rhythm of the city; Petra, an artist, lived in Leipzig for a long time before discovering Zeitz. Then there are the many Maxim compatriots, Ukrainian women and their children, who have welcomed Zeitz and made him feel at home.
All these encounters changed Maxime’s view of Zeitz. His camera focuses less and less on the empty spaces of the city. He consciously tries to fill it with life, to become part of the daily life of the city.
At the end of his year in Zeitz he could claim: “Behind the ‘Dead Eyes’ I was always looking for the true face of the city. In the end I found many…”.
For “East!” Film City writers observe life on site, talking about their encounters and impressions, about their arrival, about feelings of strangeness and amazing visions. “east!” “The East” tells the story from the inside out. Without judgment and without bias. directly. seriously. Humorous. Radically subjective.
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