Who owns this city - Citizens in action – Bürger in Bewegung

punktfilm Anna Ditges | Das kleine Fernsehspiel ZDF | Film u. Medien Stiftung NRW | FFA | DFFF | DEFA-Stiftung | Schwarz-Weiss Filmverleih, 2015

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Using the example of a controversy about a former industrial site in Cologne, Anna Ditges shines a light on a societal phenomenon that is currently being discussed all over Germany: the citizens’ protest against investors’ and politicians’ plans for “their” city. But who are the people who get involved in these movements? What is it that provokes their anger and rage? What do they fight for, and with what means? And what happens if the diverging interests of city administration, major investors, and long-term residents turn out to be irreconcilable? “WHO OWNS THIS CITY - CITIZENS IN ACTION” offers a direct and personal insight into an individual case that vividly illustrates the general conflict between political involvement, self-interest, and the quest for meaning. The protagonists of this conflict are people from different environments and with conflicting sets of values, with individual definitions of responsibility and a critical stance on the democracy they live in.




During the last years, it has become obvious that more and more people want to be heard and be involved - in many German cities, and also in Cologne. The heated ideological battle about the so-called Helios compound, an old industrial site, is an outstanding example for this kind of development. Here, in the micro-cosmos of Germany’s “biggest provincial town”, you can observe and experience what is happening almost everywhere in the country: As the official tools of “civic participation” are being used more often and more effectively, the well-established interaction between economy, politics and citizenship is put to a test.

I took a closer look and wanted to dig deeper. If more people can participate, does this lead to any real improvements? And are the solutions (or compromises) really more democratic? How does the political system deal with the so-called “Wutbürger” (“angry citizens”) and with the more moderate people who simply want to do their bit and voice their opinion? There is one thing that my filmic “case study” will show very clearly: For the inhabitants of a city, the quarrels in and about their neighborhood are not just about a planning area, as a space for investment. What is at stake for these residents is their environment, their home, and their identity. (Anna Ditges)


Screenwriter, Director, Cinematographer & Film Editor:
Anna Ditges
Dramaturgy advice:
Gesa Marten
Anna Ditges
Production Assistant:
Eva Tüttelmann
2nd Production Assistant:
Julia Arnold
Commissioning Editor ZDF:
Christian Cloos

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