Bury my heart in Dresden

Documentary / Germany / 2012/ 90′

  • Author:Bettina Renner
  • Director:Bettina Renner
  • DOP:Ralf Noack
  • Editor:Frank Brummundt
  • World Sales:Deckert Distribution
  • Festivals:DOK Leipzig 2012, Tage des Ethnologischen Films Munich 2012, DOXA IDF Vancouver 2013, LA Skins FF Los Angeles 2013 (Award for Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking)

A Catholic cemetery in Dresden. A grey and weathered gravestone protrudes from the snow. At its foot stands a small American flag. The inscription on the old stone reveals who was laid to rest here in 1914: Edward Two Two, Sioux chief. Strange. How did one of the Sioux Indians, whose home is North America, end up in Dresden of all places? And why was he buried here?

Bettina Renner pursues this question, rummaging in archives and travelling to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to visit Edward Two Two’s old homeland. Edward Two Two came to Germany as part of one of the so-called “human zoos”. In those days, people who fulfilled the local audience’s desire for the exotic would be taken from all over the world and presented in elaborately choreographed shows. The participants, who were sometimes paraded through town, would attract a lot of attention as soon as they arrived. Edward Two Two initially came with his wife and a granddaughter to Hagenbeck, based in Hamburg, later moving on to Dresden’s Sarrasani circus. At the time, Indians were the biggest attraction. Living in tepees in front of the circus tent, they were required to wear a feathered headdress and traditional clothing at all times as well as dance and sing. Flocking past, the large audiences loved them. They corresponded to a common, romanticised image of the Indians. Yet in their homeland the reality had long been far different. From their free life on the prairie, the Native Americans were forced into reservations and subjected to a programme of re-education. The consequences were fatal; hunger and disease were rife. How are things today in the reservation Edward Two Two left behind for Germany at the beginning of the last century? Bettina Renner embarks upon a journey, meeting descendants of Edward Two Two. Gradually she comes closer to the answer of why the Lakota Sioux Edward Two Two, who in real life was never a chief, was determined that his final resting place be in Dresden soil.

In co-production with MDR in association with arte. Supported by Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen and Stadt Dresden. Development supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.

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