„Above ground?“ or „under ground?“ – This question changed the state of Baden-Württemberg from the ground up. People from different levels of society, different age groups and with different worldviews all took to the streets together, exhibiting unforeseen energy and creativity, to make their opinion known. In their documentary the authors Böller und Brot alias Sigrun Köhler and Wiltraud Baier cover the time from the great demonstration on 30th September and the arbitration negotiations until the elections for the state parliament in March 2011.

On 30th September 2010 – “Black Thursday” as it is known – a large delegation of the police force cleared the construction site for the new underground train station in the Schlosspark. Several citizens were injured, one lost his eyesight. Up until then the protest against the “new heart of Europe”, as the new underground station was referred to, was something of a peaceful summer event. But since this fateful 30th September the topic has become a major news topic. This civil protest is as diverse and multi-facetted as the citizens themselves: For some the reason may be the destruction of the old station building, which is protected as a historic monument, for others it is the danger to Stuttgart’s famous mineral- and healing springs, billions of Euros of tax money being wasted, the interrelationship of the economy and politics, the destruction of Stuttgart’s castle gardens, old trees being cut down, a tunnel crossing underneath the entire city, the fact that an enormous construction site will sit in the middle of the city for at least ten years to come, real estate speculation and so on. While everyone may have his own personal reasons to oppose the construction of this train station, all critics, however, are united in their outrage about their representatives in the government, who seem no longer interested in the needs of the citizens.
The state’s Prime Minister Mappus, secretary Gönner and mayor Schuster, however, continue to ramble on about the future, construction law, and the opportunities this project supposedly holds for the city, though people have long grown tired of hearing it over the years. The plans for the area behind the train station are more reminiscent of an American downtown from the 90s, with bank towers, a shopping center, luxurious apartments and a library that looks rather like an enormous prison.
Something has changed in Stuttgart, this once peaceful city of vines and rolling hills: Swabians of all ages and backgrounds are coming together in the streets, talking, sometimes even debating until late at night. The communication with the politicians in charge, however does not seem to enjoy the same success. Heiner Geißler is appointed arbitrator between the two conflicting parties, earning large media attention and being referred to as “an experiment in democracy” and leading up to a final verdict that can mean everything and nothing at all.
In court-like sessions, a committee in the state government debates the legality of the police operation on 30th September, interrogating not only Mrs. Klausmann-Sittler and the theater director Volker Lösch as prominent heads of the movement, but also the ministers Gönner, Rech and Mr. Mappus himself. In the end, even Chancellor Merkel steps in to help in the election campaign.
Stuttgart filmmakers “Böller & Brot” have followed the events from “Black Thursday” until the state elections in March 2011 with sympathy and some humorous distance. They delved into protests and counter-protests making astounding experiences like being hit by a water cannon, and learned just how fast chestnuts can resemble bullets or how to professionally build blockades. They witnessed Heiner Geissler, the mediator come and go, a tent city grow in the city park , a construction work fence being moved to a museum, and finally the election victory of the Green Party. But life is not a movie and the conflict surrounding Stuttgart 21 is far from over.

Alarm a Stuttgart Central
Documentary by Sigrun Köhler and Wiltrud Baier
Deutschland 2011, 90 min, HD

Production Companies:
INDI FILM, Böller und Brot and SWR/ARD

Financial Support:
MFG regional fund Baden-Württemberg

Festivals & Awards:
Filmschau Baden-Württemberg 2011
Grimme-Award 2012