In 1986, the SED regime satisfied one of its long-cherished dreams: A monument in the brawny, defiant style of Socialist Realism for its superhero Ernst Thälmann.

The abbreviation E.T. is surely no coincidence. Against a backdrop of modern skyscrapers, even at its unveiling the monument looked like an alien. In ten short films, Betina Kuntzsch explores the history of this place, the monument, and the man to whom it was dedicated. But she also tells the stories of people who grew up with that history or who live here today.

Kuntzsch combines images, films and archive material spanning more than 100 years, documentary materials and memorabilia – from residents, friends and her own collection – to produce an essayistic documentary. Historical and contemporary voices are given their say and opinions clash, making history into an experience for the senses.

It’s a kaleidoscope in which the GDR system is unmasked and its myths are toppled from their pedestals. The Berlin artist and filmmaker has cleared the symbolic pedestal in a very real way for those people living here, or simply passing and growing curious. Five coloured concrete elements – reduced, but to scale – invite people to linger, to talk to each other, and to form their own opinions.

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