Comment: Subversion at the NEH?

In 1983, the Berlin Senat awarded my German partner and myself a "low-budget" grant to produce a short documentary film about the Great Jewish Cemetery of Berlin (that was founded in 1880 and has over I 10,000 graves). Entitled Bin Verlorenes Berlin,this film suggests that the cemetery itself is the principal surviving relic of the "lost Berlin," for in its gravestones-in their designs and verbal-numerical details-­ are implicit images not only of Berlin Jewish life but Berlin in general in its greatest years (1860-1940).The visual track of the film consists of scenes from the cemetery; the soundtrack has the voices of ex-Berliners reminiscing about the cemetery and the world represented there. Twenty minutes long, this German film made its debut at the Berlin Film Festival last February and has since been shown at film festivals in Oberhausen and Bavaria (the Grenzlandfilmtage); it has been invited to the Israel Festival in June and will probably go elsewhere in Europe.

Since Bin Verlorenes Berlin ought to have an English version, not with subtitles but with a new soundtrack of ex­-Berliner stalking now in English, we thought of applying to the National Endowment for the Arts, whose Media Arts program had previously supported my work; but in truth, this film is not Kunst, as the Germans would say, but Wissenschaft or scholarship. It has a particular historical...

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