1989 – A Statesman Opens up

1989 – Between Hungary and Austria the ageing iron curtain dividing East from West, is crumbling. Having no ambitions for a career in politics, young prime minister Miklós Németh cancels all future maintenance of the Iron Curtain.

This feature-length documentary visits the closed rooms where battles are fought and history made, pushing the borders of the documentary genre to achieve a rich, cinematic experience.

Watch the film here:


1989 – A STATESMAN OPENS UP is a creative documentary and a high-politics drama about the collapse of the Iron Curtain. A young technocrat, Miklós Németh, becomes Hungary’s new prime minister to save the country’s appalling economy. He decides to remove the expensive border control apparatus from the state budget. Thousands of refugees from East Germany are encouraged by rumours that the Hungarian border to Austria will be opened and decide to make a go for it. However, Nemeth’s decision has set him up against formidable adversaries and communist hardliners. A young East German couple is caught up in the political power game: the young man is finally shot dead at the border. This tragic event paradoxically accelerates Nemeth’s final decision to open up the borders. Soon after, the Berlin Wall falls. The film follows the personal account of the then prime minister of Hungary, Miklós Németh, underpinned by archive footage and reconstructions of various scenes and conversations based on comprehensive journalistic research and detailed testimony. Reconstructed conversations from confidential meetings have been re-recorded with speakers to superimpose the resulting sound track onto real-life film and video footage of the historical persons concerned in similar settings. This device has enabled Østergaard to recreate the actual events with the personalities who were genuinely involved, thus retaining their authenticity and the spirit of the times. It also allows the audience to reflect on the historic events covered by the film and the way they interrelate.

Trailer & Bilder


Berliner Zeitung, 02. November 2014
Also the arte documentary "1989 - A Statesman Opens up" (Sun, 10/22) offers real discoveries. It looks onto history from the perspective of the man, who really was responsible for the fall of the Wall: Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth. With unusual methods - politicians are dubbed according to original protocols - the Danish director Anders Ostergaard shows how Nemeth prevailed against the hardliners of his party, thanks to the backing of Gorbachev.

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Script and Director: Anders Østergaard
Co-Director: Erzsebet Racz
Cinematography: Simon Plum
Montage: Szilvia Ruszev
Executive Producer: Lise-Lense Möller
Co-Producer: Christian Beetz
Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler
Commissioning Editor: Martin Pieper (zdf/arte), Peter Gottschalk (arte)



Ansprechpartner / Produced by

gebrueder beetz filmproduktion Berlin
Heinrich-Roller-Straße 15
10405 Berlin
Tel:+49 (0) 30 695 669 10
Fax:+49 (0) 30 695 669 15