Redupers, or the All-Round Reduced Personality (1997)

Countries - West Germany  |  
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Filmed and conceived in the divided Berlin of the 1970s, which was Helke Sander's home at the time, Redupers, or The All-Round Reduced Personality tells the story of a single mother and photographer, Edda (played by Sander), against the backdrop of everyday political and economic realities. Edda is a struggling photographer -- her work is seldom rewarding and is consistently stolen by newspapers in West Berlin -- who tries to find a balance between pursuing her career and caring for her young son. In response to these difficulties, she joins a women's photography group that has just received a grant enabling them to photograph West Berlin from a female point of view. While taking comfort in her new group of friends, Edda challenges them, and the government behind the grant, with her photographs that demonstrate the similarities between life in East and West Berlin. Edda's photography leads the group to question the nature of the current political and economic realities in relation to their own lives. The upshot of these images, as well as Sander's film, is that the differences between East and West are not material, social, or cultural. They are rather a product of governments with an ideological interest in maintaining this forced separation. As this questioning unfolds, it causes major rifts between Edda and her new friends and between Edda's commitment to her art and to her son. A unique blend of fiction and documentary techniques serve to create a stark and startling portrait of a city divided in politics but not in spirit.