Belina - Music For Peace

With a varied repertory that focused above all on folk music, Belina – the stage name of the Polish-Jewish singer Lea-Nina Rodzynek (1925–2006) – was a performer who was able to build bridges between nations and cultures. Together with the world-famous Berlin-born guitarist Siegfried Behrend (1933–1990), she undertook a series of world tours in the early 1960s, all of them under the aegis of the Foreign Office and Goethe Institute, representing Germany in almost 200 towns and cities in 120 countries. Traumatized by the murder of her family and by an adventurous flight from Warsaw to enemy Hamburg, where she was denounced and arrested while staying in a camp for foreign workers, she escaped and spent months hiding in Lübeck, where she lived in fear of her life. After the war she set out on the road to reconciliation, championing the ideals of tolerance and of equal rights between Germans, Jews and the other nations of this earth. Belina’s desire to unite and mediate was not only exemplary and courageous, it remains acutely relevant in these times of crisis involving wars and floods of refugees. For this reason her life story, her ambitions and her social commitment must never be forgotten.

  • Marc Boettcher
    Director
  • Marc Boettcher
    Writer
  • MB-Film Marc Boettcher
    Producer
  • Oliver Staack
    Key Cast
    "Director of photography"
  • Marian Piper
    Key Cast
    "Editor"
  • Sound
    Key Cast
    "Patrick Römer"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television
  • Genres:
    Biography, Documentary, Music
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 34 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    130,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Germany
  • Country of Filming:
    France, Germany
  • Language:
    English, French, German
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • 30. Jewish Film Festival Austria
    Vienna
    Austria
    October 6, 2021
    World Premiere
  • 38. Kasseler Dokfest Germany
    Kassel
    Germany
    November 21, 2021
    Germany Premiere
Director Biography - Marc Boettcher

Marc Boettcher was born in Berlin and trained as an actor, while also attending courses in theatre studies and German language and literature. He was still at school when he made his first films (Prize of audience "Das tödliche Telefon", Hannover 1982). Since 1988 he has been active as a dramaturge, actor and director working in Stuttgart, Lübeck and Berlin, where he ran his own theatre, kunstgriff e.V., in the 1990s. He also works as a freelance television director and dubs foreign-language films like "Call Me By Your Name", "Eisenstein in Guanajuato" and "And Then We Danced". He has published numerous essays as well as a book on Henrik Ibsen and biograpies of the iconic singer of hit singles, Alexandra, the worldfamous composer Bert Kaempfert and the Best European Jazz singer Inge Brandenburg. He founded the production company MB-Film in 1999, and it was with this company that he went on to make his very successful television documentaries: 
Alexandra - The Legend of a Singer (1999)
Strangers in the Night - The Bert Kaempfert Story (2003)
I Want It All - The Gitte Haenning Story (2006) (Nominated for the 2007 Adolf Grimme Prize and NRW Culture Prize.)
Rosenstolz - Wir sind Wir! (2011)
Sing! Inge, Sing! - The shattered Dream Of Inge Brandenburg (2012) (Nominated for the 2013 Adolf Grimme Prize. The film was also hailed as “distinguished” by the Wiesbaden Board of Film Classification and the prize of German Record Critics’ Award for Soundtrack and DVD) 

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Director Statement

Filmmaker Marc Boettcher met the singer Belina personally in 2006 in Hamburg, where she lived unrecognized and in seclusion. He wanted to learn more about the artist who, as a Polish Jew, lost almost her entire family during the war, was denounced by her own countrymen as a forced laborer in North German armaments factories, and narrowly escaped deportation with the help of a pastor. Boettcher wondered how Belina, despite her trauma, could represent the young Federal Republic in more than 120 countries through the Goethe-Institut, which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2021, and call for reconciliation and tolerance.

For his project, Boettcher tried in advance to win over television editors, film sponsors and record companies. Each time he was told the film was not commercial enough, would not get ratings, it was too political for viewers or not German enough! Or he was asked, "How could a Goy think of devoting himself to this subject?" or "Jewish women artists in postwar Germany - what about our Christian women artists?" Against all odds, the filmmaker therefore chose the crowdfunding platform for the first time. More than €30,000 was raised from people of all different colors and religions. The entire film team, which has been working with Boettcher for 20 years, put aside their fees so that this documentary - a heartfelt project for all of them - could be realized for the time being without co-partners or editorial influence. The finished film now strikes a chord, and renowned foundations and institutes have already declared their intention to lobby for appropriate exploitation.

With the film, Marc Boettcher wants to mark the 15th anniversary of Belina's death in December 2021 and commemorate "1700 years of Jewish life in Germany" by not only portraying an extraordinary woman and rediscovering her for younger generations. The audience will experience a musical and cultural-historical journey through time. While Belina's story is told, family members, contemporary witnesses, journalists and renowned artists reflect on Belina's career and draw parallels to their own life experiences and her social commitment. The film recalls the global folk wave that inspired young people in particular in the 1960s with Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba and Joan Baez and that drove the international peace and civil rights movement. But Boettcher also documents the hardships and concerns of today and calls for better "togetherness," to "join hands, get to know each other, and listen." Because music is universal, a language that everyone understands! It connects and can pacify. Completely in the sense of Belina, who in 1969 asked in a radio broadcast: "What I wish for myself, what I wish for all of us, is peace.