FORGET the British. Apart from Hong Kongers and the Chinese it is the Germans who are taking an avid, if less impassioned, interest in 1997 and the imponderable aftermath. The Germans it seems are hungry for information, print or celluloid, concerning the subject that these days binds Hong Kong in unequal measures of expectancy and foreboding - and what they refer to (perhaps with a sense of deja vu ) as wiederverinigung, or 'reunification'. Which is exactly the reason Wolfgang Lorcher, a television documentary maker working for ZDF - the German equivalent of the BBC - is in the territory. His brief is an hour-long programme that will cater for this vociferous Teutonic appetite and, according to Lorcher, 'help us understand a little bit more of our own situation'. The 'situation', as Lorcher put it, concerns the time the wall came tumbling down - and by a fast-track process labelled 'systems shock' East and West Germany became one. As he sits sipping tea in the Lobby Lounge of the Regent and explaining the 'thesis' that will provide the rough outlines of a script for his documentary, there comes a distinct feeling that his countrymen don't know whether to laugh or cry as they contemplate the 'Hong Kong situation'. When West Germany annexed East Germany it inherited colossal social problems and debt running into many billions of dollars. When China annexes Hong Kong it will have a comparatively easy run on the former, and come into a legacy dripping in black ink as far as the latter goes. 'For Germans it would seem that what will happen in Hong Kong in 1997 is a complete reversal of what happened in Germany in 1990,' said Lorcher. 'We are almost envious, but also greatly puzzled. 'For example we can't fully understand the need for this handover and why the British Government didn't find a way to give the people here British passports. 'We are also confused as to why Britain didn't grant the Hong Kong people the 'fixed right' to have real elections and make their own destiny. 'These are some of the questions the film will explore through talking to a cross-section of people representing both sides of the political debate.' Lorcher, who started his career as a classical actor (Hamlet was a favourite role) before taking up TV journalism 23 years ago, will be scouring the territory with two three-man crews - one from Germany and another provided locally by Charles Wang's Salon Films. Although the documentary will be heavy in political content, shooting starts next week by taking in the Lunar New Year festivities. Lorcher said: 'I am including the Lunar New Year celebrations to prove my theory that Hong Kong has never been a British city. 'The soul of Hong Kong is Chinese and will always remain so. And the fact that in Hong Kong, which is essentially a business city, everything comes to a halt during the Lunar New Year festival is a good indication of this.' But 'reunification' aside, how do the Germans perceive Hong Kong? 'Germans think of Hong Kong as a dream city,' said Lorcher. 'They have this impression that only rich people live here. 'I will attempt neither to perpetuate nor kill that myth, but rather present a balanced picture. But, of course, I will show the glamour by pointing the cameras at the shop windows sparkling with expensive jewellery and the shiny Rolls-Royces driving past.' And no doubt he'll keep the cameras rolling even when the odd Mercedes-Benz cruises by!