The General and the Electrician – Power Struggle in Poland

The General and the Electrician – Power Struggle in Poland

The General and the Electrician - Power Struggle in Poland

A Film by Holger Preuße, WDR/ARTE, 43/52min, 2021

They are two people who could not be more different: Here, the general who had made his career in the party and the military, eventually rising to become the most powerful man in Poland; there, the electrician who challenged the powerful and became the leader of the first independent and free trade union in a socialist country. In the winter of 1981, the situation escalated and the military and state leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, knew no other way to contain the growing influence of the Solidarność union under his leader, Lech Wałęsa, than to impose martial law on December 13th.

Now, 40 years later, the film looks back on the biographies of the two dissimilar men who were closely interwoven for a decade – until the trained electrician succeeded General Jaruzelski in the office of President in December 1990.

The film tells the story of the battle between two rivals and lets close confidants and contemporary witnesses have their say. For example, the union leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Wałęsa; the co-founder of Solidarność, Bogdan Borusewicz, who called on Wałęsa to take part in the great strike in August 1980; Wałęsa’s collaborator Anna Maria Mydlarska; former Le Monde Poland correspondent Bernard Guetta; the underground fighter and documentarist of Polish martial law Małgorzata Niezabitowska; Jaruzelski’s press spokesman Jerzy Urban and Stanislaw Ciosek, who on behalf of Jaruzelski conducted political negotiations with Wałęsa during his internment.

With the help of archive material and interviews, the documentation revives the turbulent times in Poland in the 1980s, thus providing an insight into this important chapter of contemporary European history. The GDR civil rights activist and long-time head of the Stasi Documentation Authority, Roland Jahn, believes that the fall of the Berlin Wall would not have been possible without the political events in Poland in the 1980s.

At the end of the film, Lech Wałęsa sums it up in his well-known pragmatic way: “I’m not a classical politician. I actually didn’t want it, I just filled it out. I was raised with the ambition that if I set out to do something, I have to get the best out of myself. “

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Sisi’s Heirs – The Children of Empress Elisabeth

Sisi’s Heirs – The Children of Empress Elisabeth

Sisis Erben – Die Kinder der Kaiserin Elisabeth

Ein Film von Martin Koddenberg, 52 min., ZDF/ARTE 2022

available until 20.01.2023 in the ZDF Media Library

A ‘Loving mother’? The real Empress Elisabeth of Austria is the exact opposite of what the legendary “Sissi” trilogy from the 1950s shows. Throughout her life, the eccentric Sisi put her own interests first. How does she live with her children?


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After her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1854, Sisi feels the pressure of her relatives: the continuation of the dynasty depends on the young woman. A year later, at the age of 17, she gives birth to her first child, Sophie. But even the birth of the second daughter, Gisela, does not fulfill the expectations for a male successor. When Sophie dies during a trip to Hungary in 1857, deep cracks appear in the parents’ relationship.

Only the birth of the heir to the throne, Rudolf, in 1858 defuses the situation. Sisi then takes off and leaves for two years. Her children grow up without her during this time – when Sisi returns, they do not recognize “the strange woman”.

In 1868, Sisi gives birth to her fourth child, Marie Valerie, in what is now Budapest. This “Hungarian daughter” is smothered with love and affection by her mother. When she emancipates herself, she marries into the “scandalous line” of the Habsburgs, expresses herself in a German-national way. Nevertheless, with her nine children and numerous grandchildren, she ensures that the family is still widely branched out today.

Sisi was only just able to prevent Emperor Franz Joseph from raising the heir to the throne to become a strict soldier. From then on, the emperor keeps him away from all decisions. Rudolf takes refuge in a world of drugs and alcohol excesses. He kills himself and his mistress. Sisi is caught off guard: the empress has turned away more and more from her family. She lives in her own world, which consists mostly of traveling, horseback riding and writing poetry. Meanwhile, Emperor Franz Joseph worries about his fatherless granddaughter Elisabeth-Marie, known as “Erszi”. She becomes a rebel at the Viennese court. After the fall of the empire, she begins a new life in SPÖ circles and marries a representative of the Viennese working class.

BioNTech – Project Lightspeed

BioNTech – Project Lightspeed

BioNTech - Project Lightspeed

A film by Michael Schindhelm, 52 min, ZDF/ARTE 2021

Available in the online ARTE media library until 18.04.2025


With the BioNTech vaccine, medical scientists Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci achieved a breakthrough after years of research.

The mRNA technique, which has been an important component for cancer research for many years, is now making history as a vaccine against Covid-19. But where does cancer research go from here? Can the mRNA technique also help to fight malaria? The film shows the incredible achievement of a start-up company from Mainz for global health.


Apennine Mountains – The Wild Heart of Italy

Apennine Mountains – The Wild Heart of Italy

Apennine Mountains - The Wild Heart of Italy

A film by Kristian Kähler and Silvia Palmigiano, 2x43 min, ARTE 2021

The Apennines are the backbone and soul of Italy in equal measure. These high and low mountain ranges traverse the Italian mainland, alternating from north to south. The many historical sites along the way help define the country as a whole, as does the wild and impassable nature. There are many national parks, home to rare species such as the bee-eating red-backed shrike or the nearly 500 Marsican brown bears. The Italian shepherding tradition has left a strong mark on the cultural landscape of the Apennines. Ancient traditions, picturesque places and living history can all still be found here. Locals call the Apennine Mountains “L ‘Italia minore” – Little Italy.

If you want to understand Italy and its culture, you don’t have to go to Rome or Milan. A journey through the serpentine roads of the northern Apennines is enough to understand where the true heart of Italy beats: right here – in the green forests, the abandoned villages and the rolling hills.

The Apennine mountain range stretches from Liguria across the Italian boot to Calabria at the tip of the boot. Yet the mountain region between the cultural cities of Bologna and Florence is known to only a few.

20-year-old Andrea Barrani dreams of producing his own wine right here – on the steep slopes of the Cinque Terre.

Shepherdess Cinzia Angiolini has also found happiness in the Apennines: she breeds the local Zerasca breed of sheep. Old traditions are preserved in the Apennines because there are people who maintain them – like the bell ringers of Monghidoro.

Young Federico Mezzini still struggles with the 400 kg bells, but he is confident that he will soon be able to play a concert.

Laura Sbaccheri has spent her whole life doing without her dream: She always wanted to ride a motorbike. A stroke of fate prevented her from doing so. Now, in her late 30s, she has finally fulfilled her dream: She rides on the Mugello racetrack at 250km/h and enjoys the thrill.

The journey along the northern Apennines ends in Umbria. Here, geologist Andrea Mazzoli shows on mountain bike tours what spectacular secret lies hidden in the million-year-old rocks.

The Apennines are considered the backbone of Italy – a world of its own with much to discover.

The second part of our series is dedicated to the Southern Apennines. The journey begins on the Gran Sasso, at the almost 3,000-metre Corno Grande – the highest point of all the ranges. The landscapes of Campo Imperatore have been shaped by sheep breeding for centuries. Here, Pastore Abruzzese shepherd dogs protect the sheep from attacks by wolves.

Further south, brown bears emerge from the wooded heights to roam the village of Villalago. The people of this picturesque community have become accustomed to the visits from the Marsican bears. Researchers are studying these endangered animals and working to preserving the population.

Further south in the town of Melfi in Basilicata, falconers maintain the tradition of breeding birds of prey, practised here since the High Middle Ages. Stauferkönig Friedrich II. Friedrich II, Emperor of the Roman-German Empire in the 13th century, was an enthusiastic falconer and wrote a still important book ‘On the Art of Hunting with Birds’.

In the southernmost tip of the toe of Italy, the Apennines surprises with sequoia trees and deep green forests, contradicting assumptions that Calabria is only hot and dusty.

Here, after 1500 kilometres, the journey through the Southern Apennines comes to an end.



Our psyche can do almost anything: it can scare us, conjure butterflies in our stomachs, torture us with boredom and flood us with creative ideas. It can make us strong and sick, and whatever we do, we cannot escape it.

In “Psycho”, we address these various phenomena: in half-hour films, each dealing with a different topic, we show what the unconscious is capable of. Among other things, they deal with fear, resilience or sexual desire. The range of topics is just as diverse as the varieties of the mind. Regardless of the topic, the message always remains the same: we are all scared. There´s no such thing as forbidden lusts. Everyone is weak sometimes. It´s completely okay to be different. We are all psycho. Let´s talk about it.

The first four episodes are purchased by the French-German culture channel ARTE. The films will be released in 2021, although an exact broadcast date has not been set yet.

The extraordinary thing about our films is the perspective we take: we are not a science show, we don´t explain biological or sociopolitical contexts but rather focus on the subjective view of our heroes in front of the camera. We want to approach the psyche exclusively from their perspective. That is why the films have titles such as “I, anxious” or “I, desiring”. In our films, people talk about themselves instead of being talked about –  whether person affected, therapist, acquaintance or lover.

There´s also our special look. When trying to explain how we feel or what is happening inside of us, we speak metaphorically: “It´s like there are flies in my brain” or “it feels like drowning”. We take these statements seriously, try to create these images and use them to tell the stories of our protagonists. This way we bring to light the mysterious inner world of the psyche.

There is a path out and someone else has walked it before. This is what we want to show with “Psychobugs”. We all sit in the same virus-infected pandemic boat and struggle with the similar problems: we drink too much, we´re bored, we miss being touched or just want to be alone for once. Our reach on Instagram is decreasing, we are gaining weight, we want sex but don´t get any and boredom is our constant companion. This depresses many people – not in a colloquial sense, but clinically. Others become aggressive or struggle with panic attacks.

So, what now? All over Europe, people are going through the exact same things and some of them found a way to deal with it. They are not perfect, they are real. They´re not counselors nor studied experts, they´re just themselves. They have tried those things out for themselves. They have no panacea to offer, but they are doing something. And best of all: they tell us about it, so that we can do the same, or something completely different. So that we can learn from each other, and most importantly, so that we hear about each other. Because we´re all psychos! We´re all struggling with our minds, we´re all crazy. In “Psychobugs”, we show that that´s completely normal.

For that purpose, we will gradually publish ten videos, each of them about ten to twelve minutes long. The films will be available on French-German culture network ARTE´s YouTube channel, as well as in their media library. They are expected to be aired in December 2020.

Things have gotten better, but they are still far from being good. Granted, today you can talk more openly about being depressed than you could ten years ago. The same counts for suffering from panic attacks, being into bondage or compulsively counting to 100 before leaving the house. But it´s also far from being seen as normal. In liberal surroundings, revelations like that might be met with a pat on the back, the recommendation of a life coach or a wry look, but there are also environments where it´s best to just shut up about it. At least if you still want to be invited to play table tennis, if you rather spend your breaks with your colleagues than alone or if you´re hoping for a promotion.

Because when your mental health is declining and you´re maybe suffering from a mental illness, then prejudice, resentment and fear are still the order of the day. But that´s nonsense: depressed people are not weak, having a fetish does not make you a pervert and schizophrenia is not contagious.

Here´s the right thing to do: if your psyche is running wild, talk about it, get yourself help and that´s that. Just like with gastritis or a broken leg. As long as things have gotten better but are still far from being good, we have to do something about it.

Our way is to talk about it. We let people tell their stories: those who are affected, those who are trying to help and those living with the affected. Everyone has their own view, and everyone is allowed to tell it. We do not pity anyone. We do not dramatize. We do not sugarcoat things. We listen.

And when are we going to stop? As soon as everyone knows: Being a “psycho” is just normal.

With us, those people affected get their chance to speak rather than being talked about. People struggling with their psyche talk about themselves, their lives and their perceptions. They don´t explain, they don´t give advice, they tell their stories.

Additionally, those who provide professional help – therapists, doctors, coaches – will also express their opinion. Why do they do what they do? What excites them about their work, what annoys them? What gives them hope, what makes them despair? With us, they don´t appear as doctors in white coats, but as people who learned about the psyche in a different way than the people affected. We look beyond the image of the omniscient expert and get to know them as a person. 

We also listen to their personal environment. What is it like to deal with all of this as a brother, a roommate or a lover? Is it annoying or inspiring? What do they think and how do they feel on the inside?

Who are the psychos at Berlin Producers Media? Basically, we all have a screw loose and that´s probably why we get along so well. We treat each other with loving respect and don´t always take ourselves too seriously. We realized that we´re all psychos.

There are a lot of people working on our full-length and short films: camerapersons, boom operators, editors, graphic designers, producers, narrators and much more. Here we introduce those three people responsible for the content of the films.

 Antje Behr

Antje feeds sugar water to fly larvae, follows thunderstorms, erects ladders in lakes, and in short does everything you need to produce good images. She received her degree in directing documentary films in Berlin and studied one semester in Israel. Besides her studies and work, she has always been devoted to photography, graphic design and producing videos. If all of that is not enough, she studies Biblical Hebrew and works in an open-air cinema.

„Psycho“ is particularly vital to her. She thinks that it´s important to break down prejudice and to point out that we are all struggling with something. Wouldn´t it be easier if we´d just talked about it?


Marie Villetelle

Marie can perform miracles: Whenever you´re looking for a protagonist to tell their story, she´ll tell you to wait a second and starts to type wildly on her phone or laptop and bada bing! Within minutes, she pulls someone out of the hat who is likeable and wonderful. The Frenchwoman is very well connected, has wide interests and is clever and charming in a way that you can´t refuse her anything. She studied humanities with a focus on literature and film in France as well as German-French Journalism in Germany.

Marie is on fire for the Psycho project. She wants to give people a forum to show themselves for what they are. Her conviction is that we are neither crazy nor weak, we´re just psycho.


Jessica Krauß

Jessica has been developing and producing films for many years, but „Psycho“ is a very special project to her. To her, giving a platform to people struggling with their psyche is a matter of heart, because she knows from her own experience what a rollercoaster the psyche can be. Therefore, her heart skipped when ARTE approached her in form of a smart and witty editor to write a concept: Write something about the psyche. Nothing scientific. Nothing heavy. But something honest that is also encouraging. The results of this are „Psycho“ and „Psychobugs“. Jessica is very happy to implement this important project with such a creative, dedicated and funny team.