One For ThePress
director   Axel Engstfeld
camera Berns Mosblech
sound Michael Loeken
editor   Jean-Marc Lesguillons
length   45 Minuten
format 16mm
broadcasted WDR
The Man with the Underwater Camera

Portrait of the Photographer Günter Zint by Axel Engstfeld

"Political photography in this country is more or less unwelcome," says Zint, a man who emerged from Hamburg's rock music scene and Germany's left-wing, anti-war crowd. His best known photo: protesting students being doused by police water cannons in Berlin after the assassination of leftist agitator Rudi Dutschke. The are holding up a black cross to stem the force of the water and clinging to its shaft. This cross has been a symbol of non-violent protest since 1958. Berlin, Brokdorf, Mutlangen, Wackersdorf were the locations for "Front" photographer Günter Zint. His first book, "Against the Atomic State", was a bestseller in 1978. Together with his namesake, Günther Wallraff, he sneaks into the offices of Germany's mass circulation tabloid, BILD, but also the German Army and the Thyssen Steel Company, and always from the bottom.

Zint grew up near Fulda, in a valley that no longer exists. The autobahn and train tracks have turned it into a drawing board landscape. American troops were also guarding the so-called Fulda Gap to make sure the communists didn't come marching over the border to East Germany. Here, at home, if you can call it that, is where one of his last photography books was created. Engstfeld's camera takes a look at the person who's occupation is "being curious": Jumping out of the car, running over to an airfield fence, snapping shots of an ominous-looking helicopter against a bright sky, right and left posted signs reading "Positively no Photographs! Restricted Area!". Meanwhile, the film camera ducks down behind the car and filming through the windows. Seconds later, men in uniform arrive. Zint approaches a black GI and as nimble-minded as ever says: "I use to play here when I was a kid. I take pictures in my country and you take pictures in yours, okay?" No spy, just a photography fan and the MPs drive off. Here where he spent his childhood one sees the more restrained side of Günter Zint, his affection for people and situations, his sensitivity and disappointments in love.

Back in Hamburg, the infamous Sankt Pauli entertainment district, A French Fry stand. A handful of quirky characters sitting around. A toothless fellow named Dieter pulls out a revolver, the whore pulls out a breast for a fee. Here on the district's main street, the Reeperbahn, is where Zint feels at home. His apartment and atelier are located in an old whorehouse. The rent, too, for the last ten years, has gone to Eddi Durant, boss of the Salambo Club.

Durant, who arranges his own skin shows for uptight gentlemen (we are there) is a patron of the arts, so to speak. Engstfeld explores with the camera becoming the protagonist himself. Brokdorf and Sankt Pauli - where's the connection? It is Zint, who fled the narrowness of the Fulda Valley.

back to ca talog