Thursday, January 25, 2007

German mocu-mentary depicts senior citizen revolt

Two veteran film-makers have confronted Germany's troubled health care and pension systems, throwing themselves into a sensitive debate that many political leaders have shied away from.  With governments apparently reluctant to get to grips with the political time-bombs, film-makers Regina Ziegler and Dieter Wedel are helping to force the topics into the spotlight with separate controversial television feature movies.  Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians often talk of "demographic developments" to try to explain away problems in pensions and health care. But the population is shrinking, health care is becoming unaffordable for some and the pension system is under-funded.  Ziegler, 62, and Wedel, 64, have used fiction to hammer home the point that Germany, once one of the world's richest nations, faces what they believe are health and pension crises.  "The political leaders are afraid to be honest," Wedel said in an interview with Reuters ahead of his February film "Mein Alter Freund Fritz" (My Old Friend Fritz) that takes a scathing look at profit-hungry hospitals and doctors.  "It's unfortunate that there is so much cowardice and ducking away from problems," added Wedel, who wrote and directed the 99-minute, 2.4 million-euro ($3.11 million) film for ZDF television.  Ziegler's 135-minute science-fiction film "Aufstand der Alten" (Uprising of the Old People) is a faux documentary-style production set in 2030. More than 10 million viewers saw it on ZDF last week and it sparked widespread debate in Germany.  In the film, most senior citizens are on the brink of starvation with minimal pensions and almost no health care.  A journalist played by Bettina Zimmermann is investigating the mysterious death of an elderly rebel leader and "looks back" at the uprising's roots, discovering empty promises by leaders about pensions and a failure to fix the problems in the past. The film has upset viewers, many unable to distinguish fact from fiction. One retired political leader, Kurt Biedenkopf, said "Uprising of the Old People" is a belated wake-up call.  "If films like these were made 15 years ago, we wouldn't have wasted as much time and wouldn't now be worrying about the disaster we're heading for," said Biedenkopf, formerly a leader in Merkel's Christian Democrats and premier of Saxony state.

Source:  Reuters Health

Read about the film at Wikipedia.

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