Former East/Former West

1994, 65 min, color, sound

Shot in Berlin in 1992-93 after reunification, Former East/Former West is an essay about national identity in post-Cold War Germany. Hundreds of street interviews, conducted throughout the city, document how the people of Berlin view their lives, their city, their nation — three years after the fall of the Wall and two years after the reunification of East and West. For forty-five years, residents of the divided city lived radically different lives, both in terms of ideology and everyday experience. Silver questions the very notion of a shared language, focusing on changing definitions of words for political and economic systems — democracy, freedom, capitalism, socialism — and words used to describe nations and identity — nationality, Germany, history, foreigners, home. Uncovering personal and ideological concepts of boundaries and German identity (who belongs and who doesn't), Silver explores the meanings and uses of national identity.

Directed, filmed and edited by Shelley Silver. Assistant Director: Annette Maechtel. Editors: Jeff Stabenaux, Konrad Roman.