NEULAND director Holger Lauinger on ecological and social restructuring

     |    Monday, der 29. March 2010

NEULAND co-director Holger Lauinger talks about his film. (Also by : NO MORE / NOT YET).

How did the idea for the film ‘Neuland’ come about and where did you encounter the different styles of living and working that correspond to the idea of Neuland? How does “Neuland” relate to your previous projects?

The idea for “Neuland” didn’t hit me like a bolt lighting. It was more a drawn out way of processing things that I had personally experienced over many years. Neuland was a personal response to the search for answers to questions of social development in times of shrinking resources. It’s a journey into east German regions where the economic and demographic developments mean that the rules of the game are now different for the people who live there. They face expectations and demands that are totally new to them… In the 18 fragments that comprise the film we show the daily lives of people who find themselves in times of dramatic negative growth. They have to find their own responses to this new situation they find themselves in. The people and their brutally honest statements brings across in a very forceful manner both the intense misery as well as the many personal and collective small steps into a new era. The cinematic consolidation of these so-called ‘reality fragments’ presenting different protagonists – pioneers and their projects – to think and discuss things in terms of ‘newland’.

What do you think the effect of your film might be? The impulses it provides could lead to what kind of social change?

I think the financial crisis that is currently knocking at our doors is an impetus for the ecological and social restructuring of communities. Apart from the massive global social and economic problems that current ‘casino capitalism’ has thrown at our feet, European society is also at a crossroads. We are now experiencing the fragmentation of regions into positive and negative growth areas. This calls into question the idea of “the same quality of life” for all regions of Germany. We are now also experiencing a rapid increase in gentrification within society… there is some crossover in both these these processes, which is why we ask at the beginning of our journey: “will different segments of society be spatially separated?” And if the state weasels out of ts responsibility for shrinking regions, what might be the consequences? What happens if there is a drastic reduction in infrastructure basics such as train stations, schools, hospitals, public transport etc.?

If we can’t or don’t want to develop policy to prevent this process, how will we go about implementing cuts? We desperately need to do without the rhetoric, and discuss the ways in which civic life can actually and effectively be strengthen I think that the answers will be found only within a concept of “social and ecological restructuring”. This would include initiating local development, new forms of regional economic cooperation, energy self-sufficiency, collectives, new types of work and living arrangements, new social legislation, a guaranteed minimum income for all, etc. If we aren’t prepared to establish a political framework to reinforce civil life there will be a return of barbarity. No-go-areas, racial violence, hate crimes, and elections results up to 45% for the extreme nationalist NPD party in a region like West Pomerania already clearly point to social and civil deterioration… The film “Neuland” is an attempt to create a counter image to these developments by working with real people who are improving their quality of life in the midsts of economic misery. No one image represents the right answer for everyone. That wasn’t our intention. We came to talk! And the reaction to the intention of the film was almost universally positive, as was the quality of the discussions within the communities that it inspired. Even the weekly journal DIE ZEIT honored “the honesty” of the film…

Courtesy of

Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Soziokultur in Niedersachsen e.V.