After the fall

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 November, 2009, 12:00am

Tomorrow, all eyes will be on Berlin as the city celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. International television channels have been filled with reports about the event for the past week, ranging from the coverage of a commemorative event last Sunday attended by George Bush Snr, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl, to analytical pieces featuring archival footage of the building, maintenance and eventual dismantling of what was seen as the physical embodiment of the so-called Iron Curtain.

Away from the Brandenburg Gate, however, Berliners' concerns have long drifted away from reunification issues to more practical matters in their everyday lives. It's here that Berlin 24h ( comes into play. Branded as 'television's longest programme', the project - comprising footage captured from around the city in a single day - is designed to offer 'evidence of an epoch' shaped by 'the reality of work, family life, city spaces, fears and dreams, fleeting moments and relationships in their naturally colourful form'.

Rather than focusing on places and people that explicitly signpost the politics and social issues of the day, the project depicts the German capital's pulsating existence through the mundane: from a riverside soliloquy at dawn to Berlin's hectic nightlife, and from the desperation of drug addicts to the joy of newlyweds. It's reality TV with a small 'r', as Berliners from a wide variety of social classes are shown in their most natural state, and from these depictions viewers can draw their own conclusions about the city and Germany.

The complete documentary was premiered uninterrupted on four European cable channels on September 5, exactly one year after 80 camera teams went to their painstakingly researched locations to bring back filmed segments of a wide variety of Berlin life. And thanks to the internet, the show can now be seen on the cinephile portal The Auteurs ( in 24 one-hour installments, bringing the German capital's vividly diversified social landscape into homes across the world.