Germany | 01:18:06 | 2022

Whales is a documentary work examining forgotten, closed, and unnoticed church buildings of Berlin’s post-war modernism. The artistic interplay between photography, music, moving image and architecture, and everyday life in the urban space develops new perspectives on these buildings and their surroundings. Cinematic walk-throughs of these architectures explore unexpected connections between the various sites. The archival character of the film gets disrupted by experimental cinematography and meditative organ compositions that turn the interplay of all elements into an almost psychedelic experience.

The so-called post-war modernism between 1955-1970 gave Berlin almost eighty new church buildings. Built between “zero hour,” the “Berlin blockade,” and beyond the construction of the Berlin Wall, these buildings often remain unseen despite their eye-catching design. Almost 50 years after construction, many of them are now inaccessible to the public and abandoned to decay. These places are increasingly disappearing from view in the urban, social space. However, in addition to their confessional use, they once again enjoy increasing popularity as places of rest and contemplation in a digitally accelerated society.

Whales makes these forgotten and often despised buildings audio visually tangible for the audience. Particular focus is placed on their visionary design in the field of tension between their pragmatic functionality and today’s perception as utopian places. Church buildings play a unique role in the multi-layered texture of urban space insofar as they are fundamentally designed to resist the rapid pace of urban development with its barriers to access and consumption. Particularly to the unique character of Berlin, formerly a divided city with once innumerable gaps between buildings that have been continuously reoccupied and coordinated in terms of urban planning over the decades, these church buildings represent architectural anchor points that in a certain sense seem to have fallen out of time. In today’s cityscape, they sometimes appear like reluctantly anchored ships or beached whales.

Idea and Realization
Christoph Krüger

Director of Photography
Fridolin Schöpper

Johannes Malfatti

Max Cramer

2nd Camera
Immanuel Hick

Christoph Krüger

Sound Recording
Christoph Krüger
Johannes Malfatti

Color Correction
Nikolaus Schreiber

Simon Gehrke

Sound Mix
Lorenz Fischer