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In a Land that No Longer Exists

1h 41m Drama 2022

East Berlin, 1988. Just before graduating from high school, 17-year-old Suzie is expelled and goes to work in a factory, but when a picture of her winds up in a magazine, she is launched as a fashion model. She makes friends with the entourage of the designer, Rudi; falls in love with a photographer, Coyote; and enjoys her new-found freedom. As her modeling career takes off, her sister falls ill, and Suzie must decide: freedom, at what cost?

First narrative feature by German filmmaker Aelrun Goette, who first attracted international attention for her documentary Die Kinder sind tot (Prix Regard Neuf at Visions du Réel 2003). With its parade of photographers, models, new ideas and lifestyles, the film is based on real-life events, inspired by the director’s own experience as a model in the late 1980s and early ‘90s in the German Democratic Republic. Straddling the personal and the public, sentiment and political conformity, it’s a film that gradually turns into an energetic tribute to beauty and freedom.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT The genesis of this film goes back almost 14 years ago. I wanted to tell a story about the glamorous world of fashion in the GDR, almost unknown in the West. During the dictatorship there were not only perpetrators, victims and contemporary witnesses, but also strong people who dreamed of freedom and took hold of it. Fashion is the background against which we present a universal story. How can we walk tall through life and where do we find the freedom that our hearts yearn for? And what to do with all this irrepressible lust for life? The film draws its strength from these questions. And we celebrate women as independent and proud heroines: scheming or streetwise, vulnerable, despondent about life, yet always rising up again.