Over the Wall

In 1983 two Greenpeace activists, John Sprange and Gerd Leipold, flew a hot air balloon over the Berlin Wall in an international action to protest against the proliferation of nuclear weapons by the superpowers. This was the height of the 'Cold War' as both East and West amassed their nuclear arsenals. During this period more than 600 people were shot and killed trying to escape over 'The Wall' from East to West. 

This protest seemed to represent the epitome of peace and vulnerability ranged against aggression and potential world destruction. However, both men were arrested for the action and charged with carrying warlike materials into West Berlin, which at the time carried the maximum penalty of death. Out of the action a close friendship evolved as both men realised that his family history mirrored the other's.

In this short film the two pilots reflect with upon the impact of their action and its relevance for today.
They explore how individual actions can contribute in some small way to larger world changes.

The film is made entirely of archival material from various sources. Many thanks are due to Greenpeace for access to their archives of the action and in this selection to Lel McIntyre for her photograph from Greenham Common, which is so resonant of the anti-nuclear protests of the time.