Documentary film by Katja Baumgarten
In collaboration with Gisela Tuchtenhagen (camera and sound)
Germany, 88 minutes, premiere 52. Berlinale 2002
“You must decide!”,
the specialist in prenatal diagnostics tells me.
Ultrasound examination during the 21st week of pregnancy –
diagnosis: „complex defect syndrome, suspected chromosome anomaly. Because of the many defects in different organ systems the prognosis must be described as very poor.“
„You must decide!“ the specialist in prenatal diagnostics tells me. „In such a case immediate abortion is the usual solution.“
This autobiographical documentary is devoted to life, birth and taking leave of my little son, Martin Tim, to personal questions and developments arising from being confronted with the tragic diagnosis and the resulting demands requiring me to decide about duration of life and about the conditions of death of one of my four children.“
Katja Baumgarten (midwife and filmmaker)
Sitting face to face with the gynaecologist, the idea of this film came to me almost like a reflex. A sort of self-defence: In any event, that which is about to happen now is too much for me. Documentation as evidence where orientation is threatened to get lost in inner chaos. The need to not keep the anguish surrounding this decision to myself forever, but to make public at some time that which would normally only take place in the silence of privacy.
From my working experience as a midwife, I know that the decision against her own child may become a mother’s lifelong companion – like a dark and ominous shadow. Apart from protecting her health, something which is provided for by law, there is also an unspoken message coupled with the possibility of choosing between life and death:
“If you fail at the unpredictable tasks put to you by your sick, unborn child, it’s only you that are to blame.“
Gisela Tuchtenhagen immediately responds to my plea to come: Four days later we do the first shooting. I tell her, my intimate friend, what’s going on – just as I would have done without the camera. Gisela ingests it all with compassion and sympathy. Her loving eye behind the camera never leaves me unprotected, nor exposed.
At the time, I did not know whether I really would use the very personal video material for the film.
It could possibly be the source of inspiration for a more associative approach to telling my story. At the same time, I too am taking pictures with the video camera, shots out of my everyday life during this crisis and afterwards, the time with Martin – the first ones on the day of the diagnosis. Not before one year later, did I view all the material for the first time. It is a challenge finding the appropriate form for this film – altogether four years I was engulfed in this work.
Premiere – 52. Berlinale
Perspektive deutsches Kino
10. Februar 2002
Die Reihe Perspektive Deutsches Kino bietet in- und ausländischen Besuchern der Internationalen Filmfestspiele die Möglichkeit, sich über den aktuellen Stand der deutschen Filmproduktion zu informieren. Dabei möchte diese Reihe vor allem den Blick auf Produktionen mit besonderer Handschrift, zukunftsweisender Ästhetik oder ungewöhnlichen Mach- und Stilarten lenken. Die Reihe will den deutschen Film von seiner aktuellsten und unkonventionellsten Seite zeigen. (Berlinale-Text)
lobende Erwähnung bei der Preisverleihung des
17. Internationalen Dokumentarfilmfestivals München
Bundesstart im Kino
10. April 2003
Erstausstrahlung auf ARTE
28. Juni 2003
Festivals: Berlin, München, Duisburg, Braunschweig, Kassel, Dortmund, Pärnu (EST), San Benedetto del Tronto (I), Jilhava (CZ)