Natura Urbana tells the post-war history of Berlin through its plants. The film takes us from the Trümmerlandschaften and their unique ecologies to the abandoned roofs of the Friedrichshagen Waterworks on the edge of the city. We are encountering an extraordinary variety of spontaneous vegetation from all over the world that has sprouted along railway lines, street corners, and in the distinctive Brachen of Berlin.
In Natura Urbana the changing vegetation of Berlin serves as a parallel history to war-time destruction, geo-political division, and the newest phase of urban transformation. Natura Urbana takes us on a unique journey through Berlin ranging from the botanical microcosm of cracked paving stones to elaborate attempts to map the entire city in terms of its distinctive ecological zones.
I am co-author and co-producer of NATURA URBANA | THE BRACHEN OF BERLIN (UK/Germany, 72 mins, dir. by Matthew Gandy). You can find the trailer, upcoming screenings, and more information on the film’s website. If you’d like to obtain a DVD copy of the film (with booklet), please email me or smnr2 at cam.ac.uk. The DVD booklet includes a collection of essays by Matthew Gandy, Sandra Jasper, Stephen Barber, Dorothee Brantz, and Joachim Schlör.
Natura Urbana has been featured in the Film Review Forum of the AAG Review of Books, with contributions by Philip Lawton and Karen E. Till, Sandra Jasper, Alexander Vasudevan, Sonja Dümpelmann, Michael Flitner, Matthew Beach and Catherine Nash, and Matthew Gandy.