The Center (Die Mitte)
im PANORAMA des
Offiziellen Programms der 54. BERLINALE
Where is the
geographical center of Europe? No less than a dozen towns within a
radius of two-thousand kilometers claim the distinction of being the
"center." So the Polish film director Stanislaw Mucha and his
film team take off on an entertaining odyssey –sometimes burlesque,
sometimes tragicomic –across Central Europe in search of the
one-and-only, the "true center"of a continent covered with
The geographical center of Europe must be somewhere between the North Cape, Greece, Portugal and Russia. If you ask people where it is, one person will say he has no idea, another is convinced that it’s in Essen, a third person happens to be on vacation, for a fourth person it’s r ight at the crux of the matter, and a fifth person is still looking for the proper point of view.
The Polish filmmaker Stanislaw Mucha is still looking, too. He and his film team take off on a lively odyssey across the continent until they find just what they’re looking for…over a dozen towns that claim to be the "center"of Europe.
In Austria’s Braunau am Inn, where Japanese tourists are busy taking snapshots of Hitler ’s birthplace, Mucha stops by a restaurant called "Mittelpunkt Europas" ("Center of Europe") and learns that Napoleon found his "center " in that very town. In Slovakia’s Krahule, where an angel helped to pinpoint the town’s location, a man thinks aloud about a poster saying: "Let’s join the European Union, but not with bare asses."In the Polish town of Piatek, someone swears that the center has somehow disappeared, and further to the east the film team actually gets lost in the "middle of Poland’s jungle." In Lithuania’s "Europos Centro" near Vilnius, one family sees Europe as a "monster" and the downfall of the Soviet Union as their worst misfortune. One of their neighbors tells the tragicomical tale of his relatives who all hanged themselves, and in a labyrinth called "Television for Europe" there’s a man who looks after thousands of broken TVs. In the Western Ukrainian town of Rachiv, which has been the center of Europe since 1887, time is divided. Clocks are set either two hours ahead or two hours behind, depending on whose time they tick to: Europe’s or Kiev’s. There we run into the last remaining Hasid who is buying the newspaper "Center of Europe." We then discover everything they don’t print from the snow-white lady at the kiosk: Her newsstand is possibly "the true center"…
The center of Europe… its location is not a question of topography. It’s a matter of faith. But, as a matter of fact, it is located further east than one would expect. The film investigates the traces of errors, presumptions and bizarre self-assertions. It casts a particular light on eccentrics and visionaries, local patriots and continental utopians. Mucha tells the story of people outside Europe’s former borders and inside the new ones, people whose increasingly desperate struggle for survival has simply enhanced their composure and their sense of humor.
Those who live in their respective "center" determine people’s view of Europe. No center is actually the center, but every center is the hub of the universe, and every virtual place that claims that distinction is the heart of the world…
camera: Susanne Schüle
Stanislaw Mucha - Born in Nowy Targ, Poland on 3.5.1970. After taking final school examinations he studied acting at the „Ludwik Solski"drama school in Cracow, graduating with an M.A. in 1993. Then joined Cracow´s ´Old Theatre´. Studied film directing at the Konrad Wolf College of Film and Television at Babelsberg from 1995-00. Was a fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2000 and DEFA-Foundation in Berlin in 2002.
1995 DER PUPPENDOKTOR (The
Puppet Doctor), documentary, 16mm color, 15 min