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PROJECTS | 2002 | THE BRANDENBURG FARMERS CHRONICLE

THE BRANDENBURG FARMERS CHRONICLE

Part 1 | "Potato-Dreams" and "Steam-Horses"

Part 2 | "Swindler" and the "Harvest-Battle"

Author & Director:
Juergen Ast | Guenter Meyer

Commissioning Editor:
Anette Boderke

Duration:
2 x 45'

Production:
astfilm productions | for ORB

Brandenburg - a farmers land. It is here where the breathtaking "career" of the potato started in Germany, from a strange fruit to a symbol of the country. Also the German "pineapple", the sugar beet, began its fame in the Mark Brandenburg. Already Theodor Fontane told the story of the life and work of the resident farmers, and of the influence of the most famous German agriculturist Albrecht Daniel Thaer. It was none less than the "Old Fritz" who called the agriculture the first of all arts.

Those pathways and traces of Brandenburg's agrarian history follows the documentary in its first part. It tells the story of roaring farming machines and as well of the hard labor of the women in the countryside. Rare film-footage of the daily life on the fields gives an impression of the hardship of those farmers.

What was a Brandenburg village like in the Third Reich, a time when the farmers were supposed to become the "New Nobility of Blood and Earth"? What was a Brandenburg village during the war, when forced labor convicts worked on the fields and later when endless tracks of refugees in desperate need of everything were crossing towards the end of the Second World War? What is a village in a time of political changes, when banners claimed "Junkerland in Bauernhand!" ("The land of the great land owner for the farmers!") and Fontane's heroes, the nobility was expropriated?

The second part of the documentary is looking for answers to all of those questions. But it also recalls the time of the "collectivization" of the farmland in Brandenburg, when in the name of socialism the farmers were often forced to give up all independence and became rather involuntary members of the agricultural production cooperatives, the "LPG". The film also reminds of the time when the "State of Workers and Farmers" declined, and the farmers suddenly had new opportunities and new risks to face.

The well known actress Carmen Maja Antoni ("Paths Over the Land", "The Store") hosts the two-part documentary with shrewdness, mother wit, and profound humor. She plays the market-woman at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, slips in the role of Lady of Friedland, Brandenburg's strangest agriculturist, and plays a ruined farmer's wife during the world economic crisis. In a movie theatre she watches Nikita Khrushchev while harvesting corn, reads as a LPG-farmer wondering in the paper "Neues Deutschland" about the heroic "harvest-battles", or receives in 1945 as a "resettler" a small piece of farmland. The Brandenburg farmers chronicle - a far field. An extraordinary story that is being told informative, exciting and entertaining.