a film by Bertram Verhaag
1968. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot dead in Memphis, Tennessee. The following day, in Riceville, Iowa, primary school teacher Jane Elliot carries out a radical exercise in her classroom. She divides her students into two groups on the basis of one arbitrary, physical property: blue eyes, or brown? Elliot declares those with blue eyes to be superior and more intelligent. She grants them privileges that she denies to those who are brown-eyed. They are condemned as inferior, less intelligent and lower-qualified.
20 years later, and Elliot has dedicated her life to the fight against prejudice, ignorance and racism. Her audience is now much broader. It includes teachers, students, firemen, and even the entire staff of a bank. But her message remains the same.
For many white people, Elliott’s workshop is the first time they experience the feeling of belonging to a condemned group. They become acquainted with discrimination in the same way that women, people with a different skin color, or the disabled experience it in wider society. Within the space of 15 minutes, Jane Elliott succeeds in creating a realistic microcosm of modern society, with all its unspoken rules and assumptions.
As was established in the controversial “Milgram” experiment - in which participants were instructed to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience - even those who are uncomfortable with society’s rules find themselves drawn into the system. What begins as a game turns into a cruel reality, driving some participants to erupt in intense and unforeseen outbursts of emotion.
(Language Versions: German, English, French, Polish)
One-Future-Preis: Lobende Erwähnung, München 1996 -- Nominierung IDA-Awards, Int. Documentary Association, Los Angeles 1996 -- Findling, Int. Dokumentar Film Festival, Leipzig 1996 -- Eine der herausragenden Dokumentationen 1996, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science, Los Angeles 1996 -- Chris Award: Bronze, Columbus Int. Film & Video Festival, USA 1996 -- Publikumspreis, I.D.F.A., Amsterdam 1996 -- Publikumspreis: Bester Dokumentarfilm, The Nortel Palm Springs Int. Film Festival, Palm Springs 1997 -- International Federation of Journalists Media Award: Lobende Erwähnung, 1997 -- Nominierung INPUT, Nantes 1997 -- Certificate for Creative Excellence, US Int. Film and Video Festival, Elmhurst 1997 -- 1. Preis Kategorie Information, CIVIS Medienstiftung 1997 -- 1. Preis Jugend-Jury, CIVIS Medienstiftung 1997 -- Best Film of 1997, Central Florida Film & Video Festival 1997 -- Gran Premio della Giuria del Pubblico (Publikumspreis), Maremma Documentary Festival, Pitigliano 1997 -- Finalist Certificate in the Category Human Relations, The New York Festival 1998 -- Bester deutschsprachiger Film, Black Int. Cinema Film-/Video Festival Berlin & USA 1998
Buch & Regie
Bertram Verhaag •
Waldemar Hauschild - Hans-Albrecht Lusznat
- Glenn Eddins • Schnitt Uwe Klimmeck • Ton Zoltan Ravasz
- Bopp King - Joe Thoennes • Mischung Wolfgang Neumann
• Bildtechnik Gisela Kneifel • Online Julia Furch • Redaktion Werner Dütsch - Reinhard Wulf - Christel Hinrichsen
In Co-Produktion mit WDR, 3sat und BR
© 1996 DENKmal-Film Verhaag GmbH