Using Film to Examine Heritage, Identity and Global Citizenship: supporting the work of the Bautzen Memorial to Engage New Audiences


This project set out to realize unanticipated impacts of Cooke's AHRC project AH/K005359/1 'Screening European Heritage'. The project worked with the Bautzen Memorial in Germany - formerly the main prison of the East German Secret Police - and the community filmmaking project 'Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin', in collaboration with the British Film Institute Film Academy, to co-produce a film. Working with a group of young people from the UK and both the former East and West German states, the film drew on the findings of the original research on the ways in which popular culture reflects the changing legacy of the GDR in contemporary Germany, along with archival material from the Memorial.

The project provided young people, who received training to make the film, with a means to reflect creatively upon the lessons to be learnt from the GDR dictatorship for contemporary understandings of democracy, global citizenship and the competing ways that notions of 'heritage' relate to our sense of identity. The project was exploratory in nature and envisaged as providing a model for groups wishing to undertake similar educational film-making projects in a range of settings.

Our main partner in this project was the Bautzen Memorial. It is the aim of the Memorial to keep alive the memory of the crimes of the East German regime as a historical warning for contemporary society. Central to its strategy is to support the political education of young people, both across the former East and West German states and also within a European context.

The project team and Bautzen Memorial also worked with 'Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin' (LKJB), an educational filmmaking charity that aims to turn young people from passive consumers of audio-visual media into active and critical practitioners. The charity offers young people a professional introduction to basic filmmaking techniques and supports them in developing and realising their own projects in small groups.

One of LKJB's strategic aims is to prompt young people to ask questions about society and history by means of their audio-visual practice. The charity has a strong interest in creating such an engagement with the GDR past, a period of history which young people did not witness but which is crucial to understanding contemporary Germany and its role in Europe. Normally working within Berlin and its surrounding areas, the LKJB was keen to extend its reach through cooperation with the Bautzen Memorial. The project, moreover, allowed LKJB to develop links with the British Film Institute's Film Academy, allowing both film-training initiatives to share best practice.

Project website