Berlin Bytch Love:

Summer in Berlin. Sophie (15) and Dominik (17) have been living on the streets around Görlitzer Park for six months. They sleep in doorways, collect bottles – and love each other as unconditionally and absolutely as teenagers do. If they are separated for even a moment, disaster strikes. Sophie has been reported as “missing” by her father – so they have no chance of getting help from the state. They sell postcards, collect bottles and “scrounge” a few cents. They live an insecure, dangerous but free life in the midst of and yet beyond society.

In October, Sophie is four months pregnant and winter is on the horizon. At the same time, a court date looms: Dominik has to answer for several criminal offences committed in recent years. He is facing years in prison.

A friend, who is also homeless, suggests they flee to France. Maybe they could start a new life there? But can you run away with a child in your womb? Dominik decides to contact the authorities and face up to his past.

The court hearing turns out to be an opportunity to return to legality. A few weeks later, the two have a small flat about 70 kilometres from Berlin – in the middle of the forest. What had long been the goal of their longing now often turns out to be a horror. An agonising boredom descends on them. Is this the price they have to pay for a reasonably secure life? In May, their son Luca is born. Dominik has invested the money for the initial equipment in hard drugs – and so the collapse of their fragile order is not long in coming.

About Berlin Bitch Love

In the summer of 2018, the two filmmakers Heiko Aufdermauer (graduate of the Konrad Wolf Academy of Film and Television) and Johannes Girke (graduate of Berlin University of the Arts) decided to document a young couple (aged 15 and 17) living on the streets around Berlin’s Görlitzer Park over an extended period of time. The aim was to create an intimate and non-judgemental filmic insight into the everyday lives of young people who live among us, far from safety, education and security – and yet are often invisible. Over a period of two years, they accompanied the couple on their journey from the streets to their own flat near Eberswalde. A year later, their son Luca was born. In total, over 100 hours of intense footage were shot over 35 days – edited like a feature film.

The film celebrated its festival premiere in competition at DOKFest Munich, where it was nominated for several awards (“Producer Award”, “Goethe Institute Award”, “Audience Award”). Numerous festival participations, awards and nominations have followed to date (including a nomination for the “German Documentary Film Award 2023”).

Title: Berlin Bytch Love

Director: Heiko Aufdermauer, Johannes Girke

Cinematography: Johannes Girke, Heiko Aufdermauer, Victoire Bonin

Editing: Johannes Girke, Heiko Aufdermauer

Sound: Liam Algrisi, Luuk van den Heuvel, Fabio Thieme

Producer: Heiko Aufdermauer, Johannes Girke

Production: Silentfilm Film & Video Produktion

Year of production: 2023

Genre: Documentary

Country: Germany

Language: German

Subtiltes: English, French

Lenght: 86 Min.

Rating: FSK 12

Seitenverhältnis / Auflösung: 16:9 (1920×1080)

DCP / Projektions-mp4: DCI 2K F-178  / 1080p25


2022 DOK Berlin: Documentary film competition “Best feature-length documentary film” -> Berlin Bytch Love

2023 Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Festival: “Best Social Documentary” -> Berlin Bytch Love

Film label: Darling Berlin

Distributor: UCM.ONE

Theatrical in release Germany: 29.02.2024

Statement by the film makers

“Berlin Bytch Love is an experiment on the border between play and documentary film. There was nothing staged during the shoot, even simple agreements were sometimes difficult. We saw the immediacy and spontaneity of our young protagonists as a quality – our aim was to intuitively have the camera rolling at the right moment. So we saw ourselves as the first witnesses to what was happening – and what happened was sometimes unimaginable: the police turned up while the camera was rolling – or we witnessed a completely unusual moment of a birth.

Along with the search for the greatest possible intimacy came the question of perspective. We realised that, as adults privileged in every respect, it was not our place to pass judgement on the difficult lives of our protagonists. So our approach was to break up the hierarchical object relationship between those in front of and behind the camera in every respect. We were in the same room as our protagonists, we were approachable and went through these divided days together. With over 100 hours of material, we then took the opposite path to the absolute documentary reality of our shoot over the two years of editing. We wanted to break as many unwritten rules of documentary film as possible, trusting in the raw immediacy of the material: we used parallel montages, dispensed with interviews, worked with Foleys and tried to create the feeling of a chronological story that traces the change of our protagonists in very fine steps.

We didn’t want to reproduce the genre conventions of authenticity (such as interviews or off-camera footage) – instead, we wanted to trace our perception of our heroes’ process of change as accurately as possible over the filming period. Because Berlin Bytch Love is an insight into the most fragile phase of a person’s life, the moment when they realise their place in the world and words like love and responsibility suddenly take on a life-defining dimension. Ultimately, our aim was to combine “the best” of two worlds: authentic, “documentary” people in a film narrative that relies on the repertoire of dramaturgical condensation familiar from fictional cinema

In its collected concentration, our film is certainly not popcorn cinema – it is a film that rewards “getting involved” with an intimate insight into the lives of young people on the outermost fringes of our society.”

The social situation

In Germany, half a million people are considered homeless – and almost 30,000 of them are under the age of 18. In Berlin alone, around 3,000 young people live on the streets. As their status is usually unclear, no help reaches them. They are threatened by violence, illness, cold and abuse. Just like Dominik and Sophie, our protagonists. Right now, the topic is more topical than ever before, as crises affecting society as a whole are shifting the focus away from the situation of young people to seemingly more pressing issues. Inflation, rising energy prices and the threat of job losses, particularly in the low-wage sector, are threatening to bring already fragile family systems to the brink of collapse.

Throughout the production process, we therefore launched a social media campaign with interviews and reports on the situation of street youths.


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Further information

Comments about the film

“Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke observe without judgement, with impressive closeness to their protagonists. They have succeeded in making a documentary film with great narrative depth, resolved like a feature film.” (Ysabel Fantou, DOKfest Munich)

“Epic and incredibly close, without judgement.” (From the Goethe-Institut’s justification for the nomination for the Documentary Film Award)

“For almost three years, the two filmmakers Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke followed the journey of a young couple with their camera. Unobtrusive, light-footed, without soft focus and without any commentary. The dramaturgy of the film is fed solely by the dramaturgy of the lives of its protagonists.” (Jane Jannke in DROBS Strassenmagazin)

“It’s almost unbelievable how close we get to Sophie and Dominik, the two who are still minors, for whom Berlin is the whole world, and yet who are longing for somewhere (…). Directors Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke tell their true story from real life like a feature film, with fluid editing, a clearly contoured camera and, above all, without typical documentary elements such as interviews or explanatory text.” (Harald Mühlbeyer in KINO-ZEIT)


🎬 “Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin) celebrated its theatrical premiere at the Krokodil cinema in Berlin

The documentary “Berlin Bytch Love” by Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke celebrated its theatrical release premiere on February 29, 2024 at the renowned Berlin arthouse cinema “Krokodil” in Prenzlauer Berg. The screening was followed by a film talk in which the filmmakers and the protagonist Sophie gave insights into the making of the film and…


🎬 “Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin) can be seen in cinemas nationwide from today

From today, “Berlin Bytch Love” can be seen in selected cinemas across Germany. The documentary is also celebrating its theatrical release premiere at the Krokodil cinema in Berlin on the Darling Berlin film label. The film takes an unvarnished look at the lives of Sophie (15) and Dominik (17), who have been living on the…


🎬 The documentary film “Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin) will celebrate its German cinema release on February 29, 2024

On 29 February 2024, UCM.ONE will release the documentary “Berlin Bytch Love” by Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke on the Darling Berlin label in German cinemas. The film is about a young couple (aged 15 and 17) who live on the streets around Berlin’s Görlitzer Park and whom the two filmmakers were allowed to document…


🎬 “Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin) nominated for the German Documentary Film Award 2023

“Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin), a documentary film by Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke about Sophie and Dominik, a young homeless couple in Berlin, has been nominated for the German Documentary Film Award 2023. The film shows their life on the streets of Berlin, their relationship and the challenges they face. The film was directed…