Opera North Blog

Stefanie Davis, Marketing Executive Opera North, follows her German roots and watches Heimat in the Howard Assembly Room

Stefanie Davis, Marketing Executive For the first time Opera North’s new venue, the Howard Assembly Room hosted screenings as part of 23rd Leeds International Film Festival. Ahead of a short trip to my home city of Berlin, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I decided to follow my German roots by watching the first episode of Heimat, a German TV series which follows the lives of a family from a rural area in Germany between 1919 and 1927. I had never heard of Heimat or come across it before on German television, so when I heard part of the series was being screened in the Howard Assembly Room, I was curious to find out what it was all about. Watching the opening scene of a soldier returning home after the First World War made me realise the significance of the title. Heimat means home or homeland – no translation will bring to life the full meaning of Heimat as it has personal emotions attached to it. I suppose Heimat for me is the feeling I have when touching down in Berlin and arriving in the borough I grew up in – familiar home turf  giving me butterflies every time in anticipation of meeting people and going places. Watching the personal stories of people living in the same village unfold in Heimat gave me an insight into dramatic developments in German history that I wasn’t quite so familiar with. The impression given was that French people were immensely disliked, if not hated, in this particular area after the war. In contrast, I grew up in the French Sector of Berlin and as a child this meant protection. French TV and the use of some of the French community’s facilities such as swimming pools, cinemas or cultural centres. The film certainly made me think about German life after World War II - the mood seemed very different from what I’ve read and heard about. I am looking forward to watching another episode of Heimat.

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