En­counter with his­tory

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN

TONY Foster was one of the first peo­ple to cross the Ber­lin Wall when it came down in 1989 and he didn’t even re­alise it at the time.

The Mt Eden film-maker was a first-hand wit­ness to one of mod­ern his­tory’s most fa­mous events while trav­el­ling through Europe.

He is shar­ing his story with Auck­lan­ders through the Doc­u­men­tary Edge Fes­ti­val this month.

Trav­el­ling back to Ger­many to make his doc­u­men­tary was a sur­real and emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

A huge crowd awaited him as he crossed Check­point Char­lie into West Ger­many.

‘‘As we walked to­wards them they all started whistling and cheer­ing and clap­ping,’’ he says.

‘‘There were TV cam­eras and I re­mem­ber think­ing: What’s go­ing on? I found an Aus­tralian cam­era man and asked if any­one had come through be­fore us. He said: ‘No you were the first’.’’

Twenty years on from that ac­ci­den­tal act, Foster felt the time was right to tell his story, lit­er­ally ‘‘sink­ing ev­ery penny I own’’ into the project.

‘‘At the time it felt very strange. I knew it was sig­nif­i­cant but there was a pinch-point on the train the next day.

‘‘At one point the emo­tion of it all just over­whelmed me and I got a huge lump in my throat. I sud­denly re­alised tears were stream­ing down my face. It had never oc­curred to me to make [a film] out of a story from my own life,’’ he says.

Foster started out as a theatre direc­tor at 21 and moved into film nine years later. Most of his work had been as an as­sis­tant direc­tor on other peo­ple’s projects.

Now the fea­ture-length film Ac­ci­den­tal Ber­liner is a chance to show his own work, in the Doc­u­men­tary Edge Fes­ti­val which runs from May 20 to June 1.

The chance stum­ble into a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment in his­tory has had an ever­last­ing im­pact on Foster.

Mak­ing the film was an op­por­tu­nity to share his story but also ex­plore why it had such a large im­pact on his life.

‘‘I re­alised that in a way I couldn’t have told the story 10 or 15 years ago,’’ he says.

‘‘There’s some­thing about the process of the im­pact it had on me and try­ing to com­pre­hend that. Some­how I needed time be­fore I could get to it in this way.’’

Talk­ing to friends he made through­out Ger­many, Foster threads a story of chance and ‘‘a com­pletely blood­less revo­lu­tion’’.

‘‘It can be done,’’ he says. ‘‘That’s one thing I would like the film to say.’’

A Ja­panese woman on the night Check­point Char­lie opened with a lo­cal pa­per that reads: Ber­lin is once again Ber­lin.

Ac­ci­den­tal Ber­liner Tony Foster.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.