The Berlin Housing Crisis and The Right of First Refusal.

A short film by Michael Grubb, Maria Chotou, Merve Kartal, Reuben Holt (MA Digital Journalism), produced as part of the Media production module with lecturer Patrik Baab.

This short report takes a close look at the current housing crisis in Berlin, taking as its focal point the Vorkaufsrecht (right of first refusal) – a legal mechanism that has been utilized by the different federal states (Bundesländer) to intervene in the sale of apartment buildings. The goal of the Vorkaufsrecht is to protect the socioeconomic diversity of different neighborhoods. 

Berlin is famous for its socioeconomic diversity within the city. Plenty of Berlin areas still retain a sense of community that has been destroyed in many other gentrified European capitals.

The use of the Vorkaufsrecht was recently severely restricted by a ruling of Germany’s highest administrative court leaving many groups of renters in a sort of limbo. This film highlights the situation of renters who are, or were, in the process of organizing themselves so as to be able to utilize the right of first refusal.

The report seeks to establish a portrait of those renters directly affected, and tries to elucidate what this means for the protection of renters’ rights vis-à-vis those institutions that hope to profit from speculation in the Berlin real estate market. 

As with all video productions, it required a lot of background research, interviews, investigations, mapping and (lots of late night) editing.

Here are some images from our production journey and please click on the link at the end to see our report:

All images were taken by members of the production team. 

To watch the full movie click the link below: 

If you want to know more about the Berlin Housing Crisis visit the link of the Deutsche Wohnen Enteignen Campaign:

93 Days

A short movie by Asmi Shetty, Prashansa Shreshta, Hala Abdalla and Dine Maria Soto Sanchez (MA PR & Digital Marketing) produced as part of the module Media Productionwith lecturers Jan Dottschadis and Philipp Möller Dorn.

The start of the year 2020 was expected to be the new roaring 20’s of the digital era. The year took a leap into the new world, but within a few months it was brought to a screeching halt when the pandemic began. New rules, strict curfews, and isolation were imposed restricting our movements and human contact. Millions of lives were disrupted and turned upside down – some stories were brought to light while most were left untold. Our film, called 93 days, revolves around one such story. It is the story of a girl, who was separated from her partner for a long duration of time, while also forced to quarantine by herself, away from everyone she knew. In this rapidly changing world, the protagonist tries many things to sustain her sanity, but the pandemic costs her more than she expected.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

German Corona WARN App Investigation

A short movie by William Bryan, Julia Merk, and Alice Preat (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

Germany’s Corona Warn app has battled misinformation and criticism on its way to lackluster adoption and app download numbers. In our documentary report, we followed Valerie Cyrkel, a Corona Warn app user and COVID-19 patient, as she detailed her illness and subsequent frustrations with the app and its many shortcomings. Our goal with the investigation was to uncover the truth about how the app works and learn whether or not it poses a privacy risk to German citizens. Could the app help build an authoritarian government oversight system?

Our group got off to a great start and managed to schedule plenty of interviews both in person and via Zoom for the investigation. Many of our interviewees were gracious enough to put up with filming outside in the cold and wind to avoid the infection risk of meeting indoors. We interviewed scientists, hackers, privacy experts, and personal rights advocates to get to the bottom of the story. It didn’t make the final cut, but we also spoke with ex-pats from Australia and South Korea to hear their thoughts on how Germany is handling the pandemic compared to their home countries.

Through our reporting, we discovered that there is zero privacy risk in using the app, but it’s still far from effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. We also learned what changes could be made to make the app truly effective in informing the public about the virus and combatting the pandemic.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

When the Sex Stops: Berlin Sex Club goes Digital

A short movie by Airinë Nuqi, Stephen Benkert, and Raf Yengibaryan (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

With the lockdown restrictions in place as preventative measures against the Corona pandemic, sex clubs in Berlin have been forced to adapt in new ways – with an idea on how to open safely in the future. Despite the fact that the State of Berlin has allocated funds to support the clubs, in particular by subsidizing the rent and paying up to 60% of the clubs pre-pandemic income, the difficulties that the nightlife industry is facing now are very challenging and tough. The Berlin Senate allocates about 11 million euros a month to preserve the clubs and the jobs they provide, but what does this mean for such a huge industry like the Berlin nightlife industry?

The famous sex club “Insomnia”, a place where adults, in pre-corona times, came to dance, drink and have fun and of course have sex like all many clubs in Berlin, was also forced to close its doors to visitors in early March 2020. Dominique, the owner of the club, and her team have found a very creative, albeit not very optimal solution to alleviate financial difficulties and try to keep the insomnia sex club in business. In addition to regular weekend streams, where techno sounds and a limited number of people dance live, the club team also decided to bring sex itself to the screens of their visitors and earn income from it. Despite this temporary solution, Dominique, like all representatives of the night industry, is very hopeful for another solution – rapid testing.

Our group met with the club owner, Dominique, through connections, and we were able to conduct a sight seeing of the club the same day. Following this, we visited the club to witness and record one of their streaming nights, as well as interview the owner of the club, tech support and a performer. In addition to this, our team managed to talk to a representative from the Club Commission, who gave us more insight into the current survival strategy of some Berlin nightclubs.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

Tesla’s Gigafactory

A short movie by Tony Pürschel, Leonard Frick, and Hannah Atteneder (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

The construction of the Gigafactory, the first car factory of Tesla in Europe, in a small village in Brandenburg, Grünheide, has caused euphoria as well as negative sentiment over the past year. The creation of new jobs in Brandenburg pleases not only the mayor of Grünheide, Arne Christiani, but also Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Jörg Steinbach. Still, there is pervasive criticism. Many citizens of Grünheide are not enthusiastic about part of the local forest being cut down, and believe that the water level of the lake nearby is decreasing due to the factory’s construction. Dierk Hirschel, trade union secretary for Ver.di, also criticizes Tesla’s future employment and union conditions. This short documentary presents the diverse opinions and views on Tesla’s Gigafactory with the help of various interviews. It also provides general information on the first Gigafactory of Tesla in Europe.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below: