January 18th: PROGRESS IN THE VALLEY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW (OT: Fortschritt im Tal der Ahnungslosen) the first feature film of Florian Kunert will celebrate its world premiere at the section Forum of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

In the creative documentary PROGRESS IN THE VALLEY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW former factory workers of the German Democratic Republic come together with Syrian refugees overshadowed by weekly, racist demonstrations.

Director: Florian Kunert
Germany, 2019, 67 minutes
Original language / subtitles: German, Arabic / German, English
A production by The Storybay, KHM, Florian Kunert
The film is funded by MDM, Filmstiftung NRW, KDFS, SKL

The Film
Neustadt, Saxony. 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain thousands of people march under the name of PEGIDA the streets of Dresden in racist motivation. At the same time, former factory workers of the GDR and Syrian refugees embark on a self-organized immigration course. The location of their project: The ruins of the former GDR factory with the telling name Progress, which later on was temporarily used as a refugee accommodation.

What starts with German language lessons soon leads to a journey back to memories of their lost homelands. They eventually end up reenacting classes of political education and scenes from a GDR military camp – thereby the social conditioning of the GDR everyday life becomes apparent.

The joint viewing of archive material re-establishes the bond of a socialist friendship between the GDR and Syria that connected both countries in the 1980s. And the local choir comments with GDR-songs.

In this creative documentary everyone and everything stands for more than just himself: The Progress ruin becomes a symbol of the lost homeland which blurs the borders between the GDR and Syria and between the past and today. The attempt of a convergence, a socialist utopia.

The Director
Florian Kunert (1989) is a German writer and director. His short documentary film Oh Brother Octopus premiered in the Berlinale Shorts Program in 2017 and won the German Short Film Prize. As part of making the film, Florian Kunert lived in Indonesia for one year. He studied documentary direction at La Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV in Cuba and has recently completed a post-graduate at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. PROGRESS IN THE VALLEY OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW is his first feature film.