On 21.09.2023, the cinema premiere of the arthouse science fiction film “Junk Space Berlin” took place in the almost sold-out Berlin cinema in the KulturBrauerei (Prenzlauer Berg). After the screening, producer, director and writer Juri Padel and playwright Vera Schindler as well as the actors Tamara Semzov, Thomas Schimanski, Selin Kavak, Carolin Haupt, Komi Togbonou…
An inexplicable rift runs through the dystopian Berlin of tomorrow, into which four outsiders venture on a mission to find their missing friend, the AI Billie. But where does Billie’s trail lead them? And is it all real?
Juri Padel‘s dystopian film drama “Junk Space Berlin” between psycho-thriller, mystery and science fiction explores social division, marginalisation and abuse, traces the current dangers and opportunities of digitalisation and artificial intelligence and deals with identity politics and new social concepts
But the closer they get to Billie, the deeper they penetrate the marginal deviation of reality. The rift not only fragments the film’s narrative, but also takes us viewers into a world where the boundaries between reality and virtual manipulation have been lost in the digital background noise. Junk Space Berlin, in parts AI-based, is “mindfuck at it’s best”. Suggestive and full of subversive energy. Trainspotting meets Shakespeare in a Berlin whose division only exists in people’s minds and is therefore all the more present.
Director’s note by Juri Pade
“The story ‘Junk Space Berlin’ was created at a time when the Covid 19 pandemic brought a rift into our usual lives, into society, worldwide. Originally, it was to be developed as a multimedia theatre piece. With a team coming from a wide range of art forms, we developed an idiosyncratic style and produced a film that is partly AI-generated, combining the power and abstraction of theatre material with the possibilities of the screen.
As in other works, my artistic focus was on immersive forms and a utopian to sometimes dystopian, often artificial aesthetic. In terms of content, too, my gaze often goes into the future, based on current social discourses. I deal a lot with technologies such as digital surveillance and artificial intelligence, with topics such as racism, social division and new concepts of society. On the one hand, the film “Junk Space Berlin” is a child of its time, on the other hand, I think it is a radically free and courageous work that has already completed its own turnaround and creates a first “subversive” place where the “new” people experience their future wonderland.
Let me just put it this way, “stranger things” happen in Junk Space Berlin, it’s a modern Shakespearean drama that unfolds in a frightening “Inland Empire dystopia” where four outsiders “Enter The Void” to eventually party in a utopian nightclub.”
Original title: Junk Space Berlin
Director: Juri Padel
Screnplay: Vera Schindler, Juri Padel
Actors: Tamara Semzov (Blue), Thomas Schimanski (Bird) , Otiti Engelhardt (Marion), Selin Kavak (Akira), Carolin Haupt, Komi Togbonou, Marta Sroka, Mano Thiravong und Tommi Tokyo (Billie)
Producer: Juri Padel
Associated Producers: Ingrid Klein, Clemens Rehbein, Roland Stiller
Junior Producer: Kai Hotz
Cinematography: Florian Baumgarten, Moritz von Dungern
Editing: Florian Klein
Sound: Elias Lenzen
Setdesign und costumes: Anna Kurz
Production company: JCProductions
Year of production: 2022
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Science-Fiction
Lenght: 105 Min
Aspect ratio: 16:9, DCI 2K F-178
Sound: Surround 5.1
Film label: Darling Berlin
Theatrical start: September 21, 2023
DVD & VoD: tba.
About Juri Padel (director and author)
Juri Padel grew up in Münster, Westphalia, lived for a while in Venezuela and wanted to become something like an “art director” at the age of 17, without knowing exactly what that actually was. Back in Germany, he first studied acting. He then completed his MA in media studies at the University of Cologne.
As an actor, he has appeared at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Schauspiel Köln and Schaubühne Berlin, among others. In films and series such as “Gladbeck” or “The Queen’s Gambit“. This was followed by his own productions as a director: the 3-hour multimedia performance of his text “Don Diggi Versuch über Don Juan zu Beginn des 3. Jahrtausends” and the immersive installation “Haus Nummer Null“, together with Mona el Gamal (invitation to the Stückemarkt of the Berlin Theatertreffen 2014).
In 2015, Juri moved to Berlin, where he first worked as an assistant director with Thomas Ostermeier, Simon Mc Burney and Nicolas Stemann at the Schaubühne Berlin.
In 2019, his interactive production “Kitty Hawk” followed at Theaterdiscounter Berlin, inspired by Jørgen Leth‘s famous short film “The Perfect Human“. His first feature film “Junk Space Berlin” premiered at the 29th Filmfest Oldenburg and will be released in German cinemas via the film label Darling Berlin.
About Tamara Semzov (Role: Blue)
Tamara Semzov was born in 1992 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. She studied acting at the Graz University of the Arts and graduated in 2015 with her solo piece “Malenkaya Strana – Kleines Land“.
In 2014 she received the ensemble prize at the 25th Meeting of Theatres of the German-speaking Acting Students in Munich. During her studies, she made a guest appearance at the Schauspielhaus Graz and was a permanent ensemble member there from 2015 to 2019.
She has been freelancing since the 2019/20 season and lives in Berlin and Vienna. She continues to be engaged as a guest at Schauspielhaus Wien, Kosmos Theater and Schauspiel Graz. In addition to her first small film and television productions, “Junk Space Berlin” is her first leading role.
Blue is a hacker who has it all together: she had to go underground and works with a new identity in the noodle shop at Hermannplatz, but then the obscure Billie disappears and Blue is faced with a difficult decision.
About Otiti Engelhardt (Role: Marion)
Otiti Engelhardt was born in Munich in 1995. She studied acting at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart from 2016-2020. In the 2018/19 season, she already appeared at the Wilhelma Theatre in the production “Das Leben auf der Praça Roosevelt” and received the scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation in 2018. Further guest performances followed at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden and the Theaterhaus Stuttgart. She has been a permanent ensemble member at Theater Osnabrück since the 2021/22 season.
In addition to her first film and television appearances, she has also recorded Sybille Berg‘s novel “GRM – Brainfuck” for Kiwi Verlag. Otiti Engelhardt plays the prepper Marion. Her first big role in front of the camera.
Marion is a prepper: she takes it into her own hands to protect her life and possessions. When the love of her life, Billie, disappears, she pursues a plan with Blue and Akira, but makes an unscrupulous deal with Bird. Can this go well?
About Selin Kavak (Role: Akira)
Selin Kavak was born in 1986 in Ankara and grew up in Istanbul. In 2008, she graduated in dramaturgy from Istanbul University. Selin came to Germany in 2008, where she completed her acting studies at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Bonn in 2013 (as a scholarship holder of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) and appeared on stage several times at the Bonn Theatre. Since graduating, she has been living in Berlin. So far she has appeared in leading roles at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, Ballhaus Naunystraße, Berliner Compagnie, Fringe Ensemble Bonn and Boat People Projekt Göttingen, among others.
She regularly appears in film and television. Most recently in Lars Becker’s crime thriller “Truth or Lie – The Power of Women” (2022). As well as in “Blutige Anfänger“, in the German Tatort “Auge um Auge” (director: Francis Meletzky) or the film “In The Shadows“, which won the Special Jury Prize Silver George at the 42nd Moscow International Film Festival and the SIYAD Special Prize at the Antalya Film Festival in 2020. Selin Kavak has taken on one of the four main roles in “Junk Space Berlin“.
Akira lives in her old van on the streets of Berlin and fights her way through. She is hopelessly in love with Blue, and although she is anything but convinced about the expedition into the rift, she lets herself be persuaded to go – will she regret it?
About Thomas Schimanski [Meczele], (Role: Bird)
Thomas Schimanski (Meczele), born in Oberhausen in 1980, studied acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna from 2004 to 2008. During his training he worked at the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and in various productions by his mentor Klaus Maria Brandauer, including the “Threepenny Opera” alongside Birgit Minichmayr and Campino at the Admiralspalast in Berlin. This was followed by an engagement at the Vienna Volkstheater from 2006-2010. In 2010 he received the Karl Skraup Prize in the category “Best Newcomer“ for his portrayal of Peter in Dea Loher‘s “Das Letzte Feuer“.
From 2010 to 2014 he was a permanent ensemble member at the Staatstheater Kassel, and from 2014 to 2018 at Schauspiel Essen, where he played roles such as Stelzfuß in “Der schwarze Reiter“, Georg Danton in “Dantons Tod“, Edward II or Anatol. He can occasionally be seen in various television series such as “Dengler“, “Marie Brand” or “Betty’s Diagnosis“.
Thomas Schimanski (Meczele) has been living in Berlin as a freelance speaker and actor since 2018. In “Junk Space Berlin” he plays the main role Bird.
Formerly an employee of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Military Counter-Intelligence Service or simply in the Bundeswehr canteen – no one knows for sure. And nobody really wants him there, because he has a dark past with Blue. But Bird, of all people, has information that is vital to the search for Billie. If you think you can escape Bird, you don’t know him very well – do you?
Junk Space Berlin | Trailer (deutsch) [with English subtitles] ᴴᴰ
Comments about the movie
“Further proof that German cinema is not as down in the dumps as one so often hears. (…) an extremely successful piece of cinema that makes you look forward to (hopefully) upcoming projects by the director and the whole team. A wonderfully playful, fundamentally likeable film that shouldn’t be missed if you’re into wacky creative wonders in film form.” (Johannes Witt, Kino-Zeit.de)
“David Cronenberg goes clubbing in this low-fi sci-fi film by German director Juri Padel. When an interdimensional rift splits Berlin in half and their friend Billie disappears in between, Marion and hacktivist Blue try to save her, but the closer they get to her, the less grip they have on reality.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Juri Padel’s low-budget cyberpunk thriller elevates its convoluted plot and fuzzy intentions through dazzling digital visuals. (…) It’s also rich in ideas, stylistically adventurous and sparkles with cutting-edge glitch-art visual effects. A mess, but an admirably ambitious, meaningful mess. (…) In classic Brechtian fashion, Padel’s characters frequently break the fourth wall to monologue directly to the camera, further underscoring the film’s original conception as a stage play. (…) A strong touch of Godard essay film.” (Steven Dalton, The Film Verdict)
“Junk Space Berlin” by Juri Padel is such a bizarre film that it would be a mistake not to see it. If “see” is even the right word. (…)It’s as if a blithely fabulating Alexander Kluge film about history and the present had fallen into the hands of the excess guru GasparNoé, who spices up the discourses with dance, intoxication and excess and spins them into a permanently hysterical endless loop, paralysed by his own overexcitement.” (Phillip Stadelmeyer, Filmdienst)
“A lustful play with socio-political subjects and creative ideas in a dystopian urban space.” (Andreas Köhnemann, Spielfilm.de)
“Junk Space Berlin: A film that breaks boundaries.(…) one can say that “Junk Space Berlin” is a film that will remain in the memory for a long time. It is a film that is not only of interest to science fiction enthusiasts, but to anyone interested in the complex challenges that will shape the future of our society.” (Cinetrend.de)