Using Film to Examine Heritage, Identity and Global Citizenship: supporting the work of the Bautzen Memorial to Engage New Audiences

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Modern Languages and Cultures


This proposal sets out to realize unanticipated impacts of Cooke's AHRC project AH/K005359/1 'Screening European Heritage'. The project will work with the Bautzen Memorial in Germany - formerly the main prison of the East German Secret Police - and the community filmmaking project 'Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin', in collaboration with the British Film Institute Film Academy, to co-produce a film and accompanying online educational materials that will become part of the permanent exhibition at Bautzen and will also be submitted to young people's film festivals (in the first instance) in Berlin and Leeds. Working with a group of young people from the UK and both the former East and West German states, the film will draw on the findings of the original research on the ways in which popular culture reflects the changing legacy of the GDR in contemporary Germany, along with archival material from the Memorial. The project will provide young people, who will receive training to make the film, with a means to reflect creatively upon the lessons to be learnt from the GDR dictatorship for contemporary understandings of democracy, global citizenship and the competing ways that notions of 'heritage' relate to our sense of identity. The project is exploratory in nature and is envisaged as providing a model for groups wishing to undertake similar educational film-making projects in a range of settings. We have interest from a number of organisations wishing to see the results of this pilot, including International Service, the international development charity which works with youth groups around the world.

Our main partner in this project is the Bautzen Memorial. It is the aim of the Memorial to keep alive the memory of the crimes of the East German regime as a historical warning for contemporary society. Central to its strategy is to support the political education of young people, both across the former East and West German states and also within a European context. The Memorial is currently focussed on expanding its visitor demographic, which is predominantly East German. It is the aim of this project to support the Memorial in this endeavour, bringing together as participants East and West Germans. Moreover, through the inclusion of UK participants it will also help the Memorial to develop internationally-focussed, English language pedagogical material in order to enhance its offering for international visitors.

The project team and Bautzen Memorial will also work with 'Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin' (LKJB), an educational filmmaking charity that aims to turn young people from passive consumers of audio-visual media into active and critical practitioners. The charity offers young people a professional introduction to basic filmmaking techniques and supports them in developing and realising their own projects in small groups. One of LKJB's strategic aims is to prompt young people to ask questions about society and history by means of their audio-visual practice. The charity has a strong interest in creating such an engagement with the GDR past, a period of history which young people did not witness but which is crucial to understanding contemporary Germany and its role in Europe. Normally working within Berlin and its surrounding areas, the LKJB would benefit greatly from being able to extend its reach through cooperation with the Bautzen Memorial. The project will, moreover, allow LKJB to develop links with the British Film Institute's Film Academy, allowing both film-training initiatives to share best practice.

Planned Impact

This is an exploratory project that is designed to have a range of impacts in the short and medium term.

1) It will impact on our partners. The project will provide the Bautzen Memorial with a film that it will incorporate into its permanent exhibition. This film will highlight the continued importance of understanding the GDR in order to understand contemporary Germany. The film will also place the legacy of the GDR within a wider European context and will be accompanied by a set of freely available bilingual educational materials. This will support the Memorial in its efforts to increase its potential to engage with international visitors. With this in mind, the project will also have an impact on future visitors to the museum, who will be able to watch the film and engage with the materials during and after their visit. For Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin the project will help them to broaden their work using film to provoke young people to reflect critically on their history and way this informs the present. The charity has a strong interest in creating such an engagement with the GDR past specifically, a period of history which young people did not witness but which is crucial to understanding contemporary Germany and its role in Europe. This is an area in which their team has limited expertise. Normally working within Berlin and its surrounding areas, KIJUFI would benefit greatly from being able to extend its reach through cooperation with the Bautzen Memorial. The British Film Institute is keen to make the most of this opportunity to further develop the skills of their alumni in an international setting and to learn from the practice of film educationalists working outside of the UK.

2) It will also have a major impact upon the lives of the young people involved in the project. Through the findings of the original project, they will be given the opportunity to engage with academic research that will provide them with new ways of approaching the relationship between history and heritage on film, which they can then develop in their own filmmaking. It will allow them to gain insights from industry and heritage professionals, and to engage with young people from across and beyond Germany, thus allowing them to better contextualise their own knowledge and understanding of this period of history and its relevance to their communities. There is also the potential for the film to be shown at young-people's film festivals which could provide future filmmaking opportunities the young people involved.

3) Longer term, the project could well have its most significant impact on the volunteering programme of International Service (IS). IS is an international development charity which works with the most marginalised people in Brazil, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and the Middle East. Its mission is 'to empower and strengthen individuals, organisations and communities, build capacity, promote inclusion and maximise potential', working with women's groups, the disabled, young people, and people living with HIV/Aids. IS's flagship volunteering programme is 'International Citizen Service' (ICS). Funded by DFID, ICS gives 18-25 year olds from across the UK the opportunity to work on IS projects, whilst gaining transferable skills and professional experience. ICS provides international development opportunities for over 1000 people per year and works with well over 7000 people worldwide. IS are very interested in exploring the potential of our project to provide a toolkit of teaching resources that can be used by ICS around the world.

4) The resources produced will also be freely available online, and can be used by other organisations interested in using film and filmmaking to explore creative ways of engaging with heritage and film in order to reflect upon the individual's place in the world today. The resources will be promoted at the Memorial, via social media and at project events/screenings.


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Title Bautzen 
Description 22 minute film made by Axel Bangert and Paul Cooke 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The film was screened in Tshepo Hope Safe Park, Gauteng, South Africa and at Royal Holloway as part of the Childhood and Nation in World Cinema conference, April 2016 
Title Freedom 
Description 14 Minute film made by young Leeds filmmakers about how the Stasi past can help us reflect upon present-day issues around freedom of speech 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The film was screened at the Leeds Young Person's Film Festival March 2016 
Title Witness 
Description 9 minute co-produced documentary by young filmmakers from the UK and Germany about the experience of a person who used to help people escape from the GDR. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The film won second prize in a national German journalism competition. It has been screened at Wisbech School as part of an ALevel languages conference. 
Description The project allowed me to pilot a participatory arts project that I have subsequently developed in my work with young people in South Africa
Exploitation Route The project could be developed in a number of ways to exploit either its therapeutic potential, or its potential as a methodology to explore audience responses to the way their culture is presented on screen.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The project's finding have had an impact on the educational and curational strategy of The Bautzen Memorial. It has also significantly enhanced the curriculum of the BFI's Film Academy. This project has also led to a string of projects using participatory arts for advocacy, in the UK and now increasingly across the Global South. Several of the original participants have also now gone on to successful careers in the creative and film sectors (film producer, camera operator and composer for film).
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Screening and discussion of the film at Reading University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact This was a public screening of the film at the University of Reading cinema
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016