T. int.: . F., M.: Ella Bergmann-Michel. Prod.: Ella Bergmann-Michel per conto dell’associazione delle cucine per disoccupati di Francoforte. 35mm. L.: 171 m (l. orig.: 180 m). D.: 9‘ a 16 f/s. Bn.
In the spring of 1932, Ella Bergmann-Michel bought, on the advice of Joris Ivens, a portable spring-driven camera, the Kinamo N 25. The association of soup kitchens for the unemployed in Frankfurt built up a network which that year offered a hearty hot meal to around 16,000 people. Finding itself short of funds, it decided to produce a promotional film. “The global crisis of 1931 has triggered an unprecedented wave of poverty in Germany. Added to the terrible psychological condition of unemployment in large cities is the spectre of hunger. One portion of soup costs 10 pfennig. The food is picked up from the kitchens and eaten at home, with the family. The cost of production is so low because the idea underlying the canteens is the self-organization of the unemployed” (“Die neue Stadt”, April 1932). Ella Bergmann-Michel wrote the script for the film and shot in twenty-eight canteens, with some short fictionalized scenes. The short was screened in cinemas alongside the main feature, or outside on a mobile screen built by Robert, Ella’s husband.
I shot it with three 1000W bulbs in my backpack and the little Kinamo camera (whose film negatives I inserted into reels in dark basements or photo shops). The footage I shot – the product of observing 28 kitchens where the unemployed handed out 10,000 liters of soup to unemployed – served as basis for the commercial’s theme, which was supposed to communicate convincingly the request for more donations. The film ran as a supporting feature in cinemas and as an open-air film at night at the Hauptwache underneath the Schiller monument. Ticket sales came to more than 600 Reichsmarks per night.