August, 2019 and you can almost hear the incessant flow of cars passing Frankfurt/Słubice on what is essentially the main European east-west axis that is the E30. In truth you are more likely to hear the quiet flow of the Oder river than that of traffic. Nevertheless, a certain in-betweenness definitely hangs over this dual city.
Between bigger cities, between a shift from the east to the west, between languages and wrapped around a border, Frankfurt/Słubice is a place many have passed by. Being originally from Estonia, but having lived in West Europe, I have whizzed past as quickly as the rules of the road allowed numerous times myself. I was pleased to have the occasion to stop for a while and learn about (as well as from) this place while participating in the Viadrinicum Summer School.
I learned about the particular histories of East Germany and how Frankfurt/Słubice has tackled the various post‘isms it has inherited: post-industrial, post-soviet, post-modern etc. I learned that it might be prudent to stop using socialist heritage as a blanket statement that magically explains all the intricacies of former members of the block. I learned about life in a border town. I learned a lot from the numerous (!) lectures we were treated to as part of the Summer School programme and at least as much from the colleagues / participants sharing the experience.
But most of all I learned to stop worrying (about not having time to produce a documentary the way I would like to in the given time; about the swelter; about the language barriers; about competing work and responsibilities) and get on with the work I felt needed to get done. Teamed up with Anna Gańko and Olha Koval, with the help of Malte Pröckl and Anke Riester, as well as the guiding forces of Stefan Henkel and Kirill Repin behind the Summer School programme, we produced the short documentary film “NOVA BEREZA”. It is by no means perfect or maybe even finished for that matter, but it is what we made. And by making it we learned to love Neuberesinchen.
The film is available here (the password is neuberesinchen): https://vimeo.com/369496534