Even the most diehard cinephiles might squirm at the thought of a day-long film. But 24 Hours Berlin—A Day in the Life is not the type of epic that demands viewers sit through it beginning to end.
Which is why the Goethe-Institut, screening the film in full this weekend, provides an 11-page guide breaking down the action on screen into 20-minute intervals. (Example: 07:20. Leslie Bomba enjoys the sunshine and a cigarette. Sven Frohn-Langnick gets ready for memorial services at the crematorium.) Viewers can come and go as they please, and if they wish, catch only the sequences that pique their interest.
And there’s plenty of variety to choose from. Shot over the course of one day in September 2008, director Volker Heise oversaw 80 filmcrews taking to the streets of Berlin to gather footage from the routine lives of as many different personalities as possible. Expect birthing mothers juxtaposed with patients in hospice wards, heart surgeons operating alongside club-goers and the unemployed. For Heise, nothing was too bizarre (or too mundane) to include in the final cut.
Taken as a whole, the film becomes a smorgasbord of Berlin life, a collection of anthropological snapshots for anyone wishing to know about Germany’s most diverse city. To round out the cultural experience, the Goethe-Institut will serve breakfast when the film begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday, and snacks native to the city’s region throughout the rest of the day.
As a bonus, this Sunday is the 262nd birthday Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the legendary poet and the Institut’s namesake. At 6 p.m. on Saturday (midnight in Germany), the Institut will serve cake.
The film shows 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday at the Goethe-Institut, 812 7th St. NW. Free. Image courtesy of zero one film GmbH.