‘In a Land That No Longer Exists,’ About Fashion Scene in Communist East Berlin, Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

Munich-based sales agency Beta Cinema has launched the international trailer (below) for “In a Land That No Longer Exists,” which has its international premiere on Oct. 21 in the competition section of the Rome Film Festival.

Aelrun Goette’s feature debut, which was released in Germany on Thursday by Tobis, is inspired by the director’s own experiences in East Germany during the late 80s, when she worked as a model for fashion magazine Sibylle, the so-called “Vogue of the East.”

The action takes place in East Berlin in the early summer of 1989, a few months before the fall of the Wall. Eighteen-year-old Suzie is thrown headfirst into the vibrant fashion scene in socialist East Germany when a photograph of her ends up on the cover of Sibylle.

Together with the glamorous Rudi, she dives into the underground subculture working on their own fantastic fashion designs. When she falls in love with the talented and rebellious photographer Coyote, her life changes as she experiences the freedom she had always dreamed of. But while Suzie’s star as a supermodel is on the rise, Coyote has other plans, and Suzie is asked to betray her friends.

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Goette saw the film as an “opportunity to broaden people’s view” of East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic. “It can definitely open the door and invite people to see the defunct GDR with different eyes,” she says. “In the dictatorship there were not only perpetrators, victims and contemporary witnesses, but also people who were strong, powerful and wild, who dreamed of freedom and took hold of it.”

With regards to her own time in the GDR, she recalls “it was all about my not giving up, despite all the barriers.” After being arrested for a trivial offense, she found her options limited. “I couldn’t graduate from high school and had to learn a profession I didn’t want to. I was placed under surveillance and later found out from my Stasi file that night school was also off limits for me.”

She adds: “At the same time, I felt a freedom at the time that I didn’t feel after the fall of the GDR. We went to parties and fled over rooftops from the police, we sold self-sewn T-shirts on the Baltic Sea, and earned plastic bags full of money that we then blew at the Hotel Metropol. […] I learned the level of resistance that I needed to survive after the fall of the Wall.”

The film stars discovery Marlene Burow, Sabin Tambrea (“Ku’damm,” “Narcissus and Goldmund”), David Schütter (“Never Look Away,” “Barbarians”), Claudia Michelsen (“Ku’damm,” “Blame Game”), and Jördis Triebel (“West,” “Dark”).

Cinematography is by Benedict Neuenfels (“I’m Your Man,” “The Counterfeiters”); the production designer was Silke Buhr (“Berlin Alexanderplatz,” “The Lives of Others”); and the costumes were created by Regina Tiedeken (“Das Perfekte Geheimnis,” “Rocca Changes the World”).

Tanja Ziegler produced the film for Ziegler Film; it was co-produced by Tobis Productions, Studio Babelsberg, Gretchenfilm, RBB, ARD Degeto, WDR, MDR and SWR, in collaboration with ARTE. The coproducers were Magnus Vortmeyer, Tobias Alexander Seiffert and Peter Eiff for Tobis; Christoph Fisser and Charlie Woebcken for Studio Babelsberg, and Annegret Weitkämper-Krug for Gretchenfilm.

It was supported by Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, Filmförderungsanstalt, and MFG Filmförderung.