Documentary makers Tania Masi and Alessandro Cassigoli spent three years filming real-life characters from the capital’s Italian community for their new film, La Deutsche Vita.
Their struggle to survive Berlin winters, find love and work and deal with homesickness is captured in the hour-long feature which looks at the down side of life for foreigners in the city.
But far from being depressing, the humanity and life of the characters lifts the documentary into the realm of a tragicomedy.
"We only realized it was a comedy after we started filming," Tania told The Local.
As long term residents of Berlin, Tania and Alessandro said the film was a form of “self-therapy” for them.
Alessandro admits to feeling homesick and started finding and filming other Italians to get over his blues.
The people he meets, from recently-arrived artists to barbers and restaurant owners who have lived in Berlin for decades, ensures the film is full of human warmth.
These varied characters are linked by a narrator who talks about his struggle with homesickness and of course, the cold.
“The narration is us. It is our ideas and our thoughts,” said Tania. “We didn’t see ourselves in one character but in each character there is a part that we share and relate to."
The 38-year-old has been in the city since 1998 when she arrived for an Erasmus year abroad. She decided to stay and went on to work as a TV journalist.
“I like Berlin and I hate it,” she said. “It is something we address in the movie which all foreigners can relate to – do I really want to stay here?”
Alessandro arrived in Berlin for the 2006 football World Cup, which forms the opening scenes of the movie, and has worked on film projects in the city since then.
They were friends in high school in Florence but lost touch after school and met again 15 years later in Berlin.
Both were working in television and had the idea to film some of the 30,000 Italians living in the capital.
“We deliberately only filmed in winter,” Tania said. “Winter shows the contrast of the Italian character with the weather. We wanted to show the other side of Berlin.”
La Deutsche Vita is showing at Moviemento Kino in Kreuzberg, Ladenkino in Friedrichshain and Kino Central in Berlin Mitte. It will be shown with English subtitles on Thursday March 13th and Friday March 14th in Moviemento and Kino Central.
Watch the trailer here.