This November 9th to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall,  The Invisible Dog is proud to present the USA premier of

A Film by Burkhard von Harder


Screening in parallel at the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the State Theatre in Stuttgart.

The event epitomized the collapse of the Iron Curtain and provided the final impulse for the end of communist rule by the Soviet Union. Almost forgotten by some, it is one of the events that has most shaped our contemporary history and identity.

The Scar Berlin is a film dealing with the former division of the city of Berlin into East Berlin, the capital of the GDR, and West-Berlin, a symbol for Western freedom of thought and movement. The Wall was carved into the landscape in 1961 and fell in a peaceful revolution in 1989. 20 years after the eradication of the German divide, The Scar features the total length of the approximately 160 km-long former Death-Strip isolating West-Berlin within the East German State: this heavily guarded zone that reinforced the “antifascist protection bulwark” was between 70 and 500 meters wide.

Filmmaker and visual artist Burkhard von Harder has enlisted the aid of a helicopter to keep precise course on the former divide line. Starting and ending at Schönefeld airport, this real time film documentation shows the “Scar” still in the process of healing and visually encircling the Western city.

In all cases where walls are constructed to forcibly contain an ideological divide, the issue of control is visibly highlighted, and tragically enacted.  In Germany, the Wall became a visual symbol to divide time: German history up until Nazism and modern Germany as it was defined from 1945 onwards. The dueling ideologies of the 20th century hijacked Germany from a continuity with its past and played out its divisive political experiment on the war scarred landscape of the German psyche. If ever there was an architectural monument to a collective wound, the Wall was that edifice.

For von Harder, as for many German families, the divide had a personal resonance.  The artist’s mother’s family was from Leipzig in the East, and his father’s family from Hamburg in the West. The family legacy and histories were captive to the political forces that enclosed them.  After the war, his divorced parents lived on a north south polarity, creating a personal compass for the artist, where his own travels to his family homes created an interior split.

In some instances, where the scar seems to have healed over, the camera is temporarily visibly lost and follows the wrong trail – a navigation aid, running in parallel to the film, shows us the authentic situation. The attempt to find the “path” once again is akin to the attempt to permanently recall the past as part of the struggle of contemporary German society to comprehend its history. The land itself carries invisible traces of what has been written on the ground. It is the retracing of the trace that is the intent of this film.  By doing so, Burkhard von Harder seeks to create a meditation on the past and perform an act of cinematic healing.

The original soundtrack produced by Sound researchers FM Einheit, former member of the German experimental band Einstürzende Neubauten, and Klaus Wiese (1942-2009), former member of the group Popol Vuh, underlines the magical aerial views of the city under snow with a definite uneasiness, permanently reminding us of the past. When the helicopter reaches Wannsee, the city turmoil runs into a more meditative rhythm.

The Scar Berlin is part one of a dual project. Part two, The Scar Germany, is an approx. 15 hour-long voyage through Germany from Saxony to the Baltic Sea and is currently in production for 2010.

A Film by Burkhard von Harder, 2009 (76 minutes)

Camera: Evert Cloetens
Editing: Alex Beyer
Original soundtrack: FM Einheit, Klaus Wiese (1942-2009)
Production: BVH Pictures, Berlin 2009