Martin Farkas shows a city left alone with its history. His film tells a completely uneducated and open story of fear, peer pressure and historical trauma, xenophobia, false mourning and the political abuse of emotions. And it shows how strongly the present is connected with the past.

Living in Demmin

a film by Martin Farkas
DE 2017, 90 minutes, German OF
Music: Mathis Nitschke

In the spring of 1945, Demmin, a small town in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, becomes the scene of a terrible tragedy: as the Red Army approaches, hundreds of inhabitants take their lives. They cut their wrists, poison or shoot themselves; parents first kill their children and then themselves, whole families go into the water with stones. Until the end of the GDR, the concrete circumstances of the unprecedented mass suicide remain silent, and the exact number of victims of collective hysteria is still unknown. Today, neo-Nazis try to fill the vacancy and abuse it for their own purposes. Every 8 May, the day of the end of World War II, a haunting ritual takes place in Demmin: neo-Nazis silently march through the streets of the community, where several hundreds of police forces have taken a stand and try to keep counter-demonstrators away from the route. On this tense day, the cracks in German society intensify to the extreme. With their “funeral march”, right-wing radicals exploit the memory of the terrible tragedy.

In his film LIVING IN DEMMIN, director Martin Farkas explores the hidden consequences of the events. Survivors speak for the first time about the terrible, long suppressed experiences of their childhood and youth. Farkas explores the traces left by the traumatization and silence of the offspring – and how deeply they affect our present. The city as he describes it in this precisely observed, complex and sincere film seems deeply divided. In addition to the desire for reconciliation and the willingness to work honestly, there is hatred and hostility. In this exemplary location, for example, the film opens up a new perspective on the contemporary, still difficult way in which Germans deal with their history.

Written and directed by Martin Farkas
Image design: Roman Schauerte
Music: Mathis Nitschke
Viola: Klaus-Peter Werani
Second camera: Martin Langner, Martin Farkas
Sound: Moritz Springer, Urs Krüger
Production coordination: Lisa Elstermann
Production management: Heike Günther
Editor rbb: Jens Stubenrauch
Editorial Office NDR: Barbara Denz
Editorial office BR: Petra Felber, Fatima Abdollahyan
Producer: Annekatrin Hendel

a production of IT WORKS! Media GmbH
in co-production with RBB, NDR and BR
supported by Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, BKM, Nordmedia, Cultural Film Funding
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Nipkow Programme

Distributed by Edition Salzgeber

Translated with

Klaus Peter Werani recording the Viola in Bavaria Music Studios, Munich
Mathis Nitschke and Martin Farkas