Verriegelte Zeit

Germany 1990, Documentary, 93' | Director, Screenplay Sibylle Schönemann | DoP Thomas Plenert | Editor Gudrun Plenert | Sound Ronald Gohlke | Music Tamás Kahane

Director Sibylle Schönemann is one of the final generation of directors at the DEFA... She starts working in 1980 in the documentary film studio, but has hardly any opportunity to put her talent to the test. In 1984, the young artist applies for a departure permit for the FRG. She is arrested by the Stasi and sentenced in February 1985 to 12 months in jail. In July 1985 a ransom is paid for her and her husband, film director Hannes Schönemann, by the Federal Republic of Germany and they leave for Hamburg. After the collapse of the GDR, Sibylle Schönemann paid a visit in 1990 to the congress of the Association of Film and Television Workers of the GDR. Here the chance arises to make a documentation, together with the DEFA, about her own past and the stages of her journey to the Stasi jail.

Schönemann seeks out contemporary witnesses, returns to her cell in the prison, describes the details of her deportation. The director looks for reasons for her imprisonment, asks why people spied on each other, and why judges convicted people. Locked-Up Time is a didactic play about human error and the coming to terms with the recent German past, and at the same time a stirring work about the mundaneness of fear in the GDR.


SIBYLLE SCHÖNEMANN was born in 1953 in Berlin. From 1972 to 1974 she worked as assistant director in the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. In 1974, she was accepted by the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen [Film and Television School]. After graduating she returned to the DEFA Studio for Feature Films. From 1980 to 1984, she was a member of the group “Berlin” in the documentary film studio. In 1985, she departs for Hamburg. From 1987 to 1992, she works as a dramatic adviser and script editor at the Hamburger Filmbüro. She is a consultant for Hark Bohm in the production of his film Yasemin (1988) and writes the script for Abschied vom Paradies, filmed in 1989 under the direction of Tevfik Baser. Since 1991, Sibylle Schönemann has worked as a freelance writer and director for film and television.

Sibylle Schönemann
Focus: Freedom