Director: Rory Ryder / U.K., Germany 2024
Category: Society/Architecture/History
Production: Rory Ryder: Rory Ryder Ltd.
Language: English, German

Subtitles: English, Spanish, German
Length: 59 minutes

‘’Lost Silverfish of Berlin’’ is a film that explores the historical significance of a forgotten building, the Silverfish building, and its alignment with contemporary housing trends.

In the quest to uncover the root causes of Berlin’s housing crisis and the government’s response, film director Rory Ryder stumbles upon a forgotten building, the Silverfish, that sparks his curiosity, altering the film’s course. As he delves deeper into its history, he contemplates its potential as a ground-breaking solution for emergency accommodation. The result is a film that explores the historical significance of the Silverfish building and its alignment with contemporary housing trends like tiny houses, mobile homes, and nomadic living.
With never-before-seen footage, viewers are immersed in a captivating story that not only sheds light on the housing challenges afflicting major cities like Berlin but also explores how an unexpected encounter with an overlooked building might hold the key to a more global solution—an emergency shelter that offers genuine dignity and a sense of community for the millions displaced by natural disasters and warfare each year.

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Director's Statement:

I felt driven to document the global housing crisis for a long time as I had problems with housing when I was young living in England and also later in life, while living in Barcelona. This issue impacted my circle of friends too. Most of us were creative individuals with no fixed income and we all struggled to pay the rent and make it to the end of the month. Berlin, once renowned for its subversive spirit and affordable rents, allowed people to take risks and live creatively. However, as the city transforms into the opposite, it felt like the ideal setting to explore the housing crisis and the perfect backdrop for this documentary.
My aim was to delve into the unsustainable housing situation by interviewing affected Berliners and policy makers while trying to find possible sustainable solutions. However, discovering the Silverfish building by a stroke of luck, or maybe by destiny, changed the direction of the film. In that moment, I saw not just a forgotten building, but also a potential solution for future emergency shelter. What began as a planned six-month project to film the reasons behind Berlin’s housing crisis turned into an eight-year journey, weaving the Silverfish story into Berlin's past, present and future.
Throughout the process of filming, I was fortunate enough to meet the Silverfish inventor before he passed away and gain valuable insights and archival footage never seen before. This encounter inspired me to not only tell its story but also to reimagine the building for contemporary and emergency housing needs. Regarding the style, I allowed the narrative to unfold through a variety of voices, keeping music and my presence to a minimum to bring the audience’s attention to the individuals I interviewed and to the Silverfish itself.
When making this film, my goal was to stimulate reflection, ignite action, and offer solutions rather than placing blame. Ultimately, I aimed to create a film that inspires hope by highlighting the potential of overlooked spaces like the Silverfish to address a global challenge. I wanted to create a film that draws lessons from the past, merging existing ideas with modern technology to tackle urgent issues, and thereby forging a brighter future for humanity. This has been a personal journey, fueled by my curiosity and perseverance. I truly hope it inspires audiences to pursue their own passions and make a difference in the world.