All is One. Except 0. (Alles ist Eins. Außer der 0.)

Expired September 24, 2021 12:00 AM
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** Followed by a discussion between film co-director Klaus Maeck and Program Curator Martin Schwartz of Goethe Pop Up Seattle **

Sliding scale admission: $5–25. Please pay what you can!

Film stills and poster credit: Interzone Pictures.

About this series:

The monthly film series GERMAN CINEMA NOW! is curated by Goethe Pop Up Seattle. This year, the series explores themes of disruption and continuity to inspire public dialogue about the ways in which the past shapes our moment and can inform a radically different future.

In 2021, German Cinema Now! has explored individual, cultural, and planetary change through the lens of Radical Break/Radical Continuity. It was only a matter of time until we came to the subject of Klaus Maeck’s stylish, high-energy found-footage feast Alles ist eins. Außer der 0 (All is One. Except 0.). The rise and interconnection of computers has fundamentally shifted the way we conceptualize the world. Einstein posited that the universe consists of matter and energy. Our digital reality has forced us to add another core element: information. Key to understanding the Information Age—how it came about, what it is, what comes next—is the story of the Chaos Computer Club, a group of science-fiction obsessed, utopian, anarchistic engineering savants who came together in West Germany in 1981, and pioneered the ethos of computer hacking for good.

Through interviews and archival material, we get to know the CCC´s founder and patron saint, the “data artist” Wau Holland, whose philosophical clarity and grungy idealism suffuses the movement to the present day. Hacker culture grew out of Cold War skepticism about official information. In the 1980s, divided Germany was a buffer zone between two nuclear powers, and Wau’s TV got reception from both. There was no way all of either newscast could be right. Inspired by Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalogue, the sheer joy of DIY engineering, and the odd dose of LSD, this bunch of “strange men with strange machines” set up shop after hours in the office of a radical newspaper. There, they opened battle against data centralization, monopolies, secrets and lies in the belief that private data should be protected and public data should be shared, and not the opposite. Through their first major action, the BTX Hack against the German Post Office’s supposedly secure BTX data system, the CCC and its stars, Wau and Steffen Wernéry, became famous. The stakes went up quickly from there: the Chernobyl disaster makes the government’s information-hoarding a matter of life and death. And when a splinter group gets involved with the KGB, the powers that be do not take it lightly.

The CCC thrives today, still causing major headaches for the superpowers of the world. How this decentralized band of outsiders became an indispensable institution is the fleetly told, suspenseful story of Alles ist eins, directed by Maeck, the longtime manager of legendary Berlin underground group Einstürzende Neubauten, and Tanja Schwerdorf, and featuring a terrific score by the Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke. Not everyone will approve of CCC’s idealistic agenda. Luddites, technoutopians, tech workers, and data privacy advocates will all get something different from this film. They all should see it.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    90 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Premiere
    West Coast
  • Note
    in German with English subtitles
  • Director
    Klaus Maeck, Tanja Schwerdorf
  • Cinematographer
    Hervé Dieu
  • Editor
    Andreas Grützner2
  • Music
    Alexander Hacke, Einstürzende Neubauten