Watch the new Sinti & Roma film!

– click here to watch the German version of the film –

It’s finally finished! The Memorial to Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust finally opened in Berlin on October 24th 2012.

Two years ago, RBB/Arte asked me to make a short film “Das zerrissene Herz” (The Broken Heart) for them about this monument, the latest in the line of hundreds of German memorials to the Holocaust. It had a long, stretched out history. It took over ten years to complete, as disputes erupted between the German Sinta and Roma association and the Jewish Community who had presided over the construction of their own large memorial, between the Sinti and Roma and the German government, between different Sinti and Roma organisations, and finally between the artist Dani Karavan and the German construction authorities in Berlin. Some people thought it would never be finished.

How should I make a film about such a sensitive subject, as a Brit and Jewish person, I asked myself?  In this film, you will see me being ironic about how much British people love to see Germans apologise for the way; ironic about the Jews rows with the Sinti and Roma (I was embarassed about our disagreements), and ironic about the artist’s concept for the memorial (did it have enough Sinti and Roma culture in it?). I try to be diplomatic and sensitive at all times, but as usual, I often get it wrong.

This film also has marvellous drawings by Otto Pankok (1893-1966), a wonderful German expressionist whose house in Gildehaus is now a museum. I reccomend a visit.

By the way the whole film is in German. But we are currently working on a version with English subtitles.

Sinti and Roma documentary on German TV

Ben’s documentary Das zerrissene Herz (2012) is shown on RBB, 24 October at 22.45 and on Arte, 25 October at 15.50.

The film investigates the new Sinti and Roma monument in Berlin. Ben speaks to the monument’s artist Dani Karavan, to Sinti and Roma, contemporary witnesses, Jews, to historians, politicians and to the chairman of the German Sinti and Roma himself, Romani Rose. As a Jew living in Britain, Ben asks questions that others would perhaps not dare to ask.

The monument has been inaugurated after years of dispute about its presentation and costs. It is located in the Tiergarten, close to the German Bundestag. Among the attendees were 250 journalists, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, indicating the political significance of the event.

German news stories about the monument:

Die Zeit 24.10.12

Spiegel Kultur 23.10.12

Süddeutsche Zeitung 24.10.12

Berliner Morgenpost, Interview with Dani Karavan 24.10.12