Hand im dunkeln mit leuchtendem Stein


A gravel path on the edge of a village. Between fields, across to a fence. Drawn into the map of former uranium mining areas in Saxony and Thuringia. From 1946 to 1990, the Soviet corporation SAG Wismut mined uranium there for the USSR's nuclear weapons program. Above ground, socialism shines towards the future, below, the ancient rocks radiate through the torn up earth. The GDR environmental movement throws a spotlight on the way. Night. Darkness. A group of people, a flashlight, a shovel. X-ray film is buried in the gravel. The ground exposes the film, leaving a trail of its invisible rays. The film SUN UNDER GROUND follows this trace horizontally through today's landscapes, marked by mining and redevelopment, and vertically through the ground as an archive. Deep drilling through space and time traces the sedimented narratives that surround the element of uranium materially, metaphorically, and geopolitically. How does it haunt the landscape? How does it connect with the ghost of socialism? What stories and biographies surround its excavation sites? How does it radiate into its recording media? How can the spectrum of the visible be shifted to bring its invisible radiation into the image, to make it audible or palpable?


Script, Direction, Montage, Sound Design
Mareike Bernien & Alex Gerbaulet

Director of Photograohy Jenny Lou Ziegel
Sound Tom Schön
Creative Producer Caroline Kirberg

narrated by
Katharina Meves
Tucké Royale
Susanne Sachsse

performed by
Aline Benecke
Mareike Bernien
Alex Gerbaulet
Ayla Güney
Mirko Winkel

produced by pong film 
funded by 
Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung/gkfd 
Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa
Stiftung Kunstfonds

Contact Production pong
Caroline Kirberg
E-mail: kirberg(at)pong-berlin.de
Tel: +49-(0)30-61076098



  • festivals

    World Premiere: Berlinale - Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin / Forum Expanded 2022
    International Premiere: Doclisboa - Festival International de Cinema 2022

    More Festivals 2022-23:

    • EMAF - European Media Art Filmfestival
    • Dokumentarfilmwoche Hamburg
    • Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen / Deutscher Online Wettbewerb
    • Internationales Kurz Film Festival Hamburg / Deutscher Wettbewerb
    • Open-Air Filmfest Weiterstad
    • Lima Alterna International Film Festival Peru
    • Duisburger Filmwoche
    • Dokumantarfilm- und Videofest Kassel
    • Kurz Film Festival Köln / Deutscher Wettbewerb
    • Beijing International Short Film Festival / Internationaler Wettberwerb
    • CPH:DOX / Science Programm
    • Internationales Frauen Film Festival Köln/Dortmund
    • Riga International Short Film Festival 2ANNAS
    • donaufestival Krems / Österreich
    • dokka Festival Karlsruhe
    • VIS Vienna Shorts Festival / Österreich
    • Videoex Festival Zürich / Internationaler Wettberwerb / Schweiz
    • Experimental Film and Video Festival Seoul (EXiS) / Internationaler Wettberwerb / Süd-Korea
    • documentART Festival Neubrandenburg
    • Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin
    • Internationales Festival Zeichen der Nacht (Signes de Nuit) / Berlin
  • awards

    • German Online Competition Award / International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2022
    • Prize of the City of Duisburg / Duisburg Film Week 2022
    • Best Documentary Award | dokKa - Documentary Festival Karlsruhe 2023
  • author's statement

    SUN UNDER GROUND focuses on uranium mining in Saxony and Thuringia during the GDR era. The starting point was our shared interest in industrial history, questions of remembrance politics and a political understanding of landscape. As directors socialized in both East and West, it was important to us to shed light on the unrestrained extractivism of the German-Soviet joint stock company Wismut from the perspective of the GDR environmental movement and thus also contribute to a political debate on historiography. Our aim was to look at this history from the peripheries and to focus on self-empowering practices of action. Based on conversations with environmentally committed activists, local residents and former miners, our film takes an ecological-political inventory that traces the element of uranium in local mining museums, in archive materials, underground and in today's restored landscapes. In our film, uranium is thematized as a substance that repeatedly returns to the place and circumstances of its extraction. As cancer in the lungs of the workers, in the form of the cloud that blows over from Chernobyl in April 1986 or under the top layer of the grass-covered slag heaps. This gives uranium a ghostly quality that returns cyclically and points to a temporality that goes far beyond the human scale and and refers to the incompleteness of the atomic age.
    Bernien/Gerbaulet 2022

  • context artistic research

    The film is the result of the artistic research project Ghostly Extractions, which Mareike Bernien and Alex Gerbaulet have been publishing in various contexts since 2018 in the form of installations, lecture performances, workshops and catalog contributions.

    They were awarded a two-year grant from the Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme/gkfd for this project.

    Publications since 2018 (selection):

    Installation The sun beneath the soil as part of the exhibitionTHE GARDEN. Cinematographies of the Earth at silent green Kulturquartier, Berlin 22.7.-22.8.2021

    Lecture Performance Ghostly Extractions at Filmforum Museum Ludwig in Cologne as part of the Videonale scope film series Ghosts in the gardens of progress, curated by Katrin Mundt

    Lecture and Workshop Along the Silver Road at silent green Kulturquartier Berlin as part of the event series Tell me what matter was the ground

    Publication wildes wiederholen. material von unten, published by Elske Rosenfeld and Suza Husse, DISTRICT Berlin, 2019 Archive Books

    Exhibition wildes wiederholen. Material von Unten. Künstlerische Forschung im Archiv der DDR Opposition at DISTRICT Berlin

  • fact sheet

    Length: 39 minutes
    Country: Germany 2022
    Format: 2K DCP, ProRes mov, h264 mp4 | 16:9, 25 fps, 5.1 & stereo, color & b/w
    Language: German with English subtitles


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