A New Form of Violence Prevention: A Film Project, “West Side Berlin,” Celebrates Its Premiere

22 students from the Ernst-Schering-Schule in Berlin-Wedding transformed the musical, “West Side Story” into a short film over the course of six months. The production of the film “West Side Berlin” was the culmination of the West Side Story Project that began in 2011 and ran for over three years. During this time, students from the Ernst-Schering-Schule developed and performed — with the support of theater instructor and film director Sabine Winterfeldt — a play based on “West Side Story.” The project was sponsored by U.S. Embassy Berlin and The Leonard Bernstein Office in conjunction with the Violence Prevention Network and Berlin Police Unit 35.

The students dealt extensively with themes of violence, tolerance, prejudice, and discrimination throughout the project, and participated in every stage of the film’s development. Special coaching was provided to the young actors in preparation for shooting the film, which was completed by Sabine Winterfeldt’s team over six days in a variety of locations and will be used as a basis for future violence prevention workshops hosted by the police. The production of the film was supported by students of the cimdata.de. and many other sponsors, who are listed below.