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Who are we in the 21st Century?

A cinematic interpretation of the world's largest round table gathering, PROBLEMA is a visually imaginative, thought-provoking invitation to a world of global dilemmas. Spanning seventeen questions confronting who we are and where we're going, the film follows the insights, perceptions, reflections and views of over 100 people from more than 50 nations sat together in one circle.

A not-for-profit production, PROBLEMA is freely available to watch and to download via this website. If you'd like to support the film, we encourage you to host a screening, to sign our guestbook or to consider making a micro-donation to help further its human connection.

'problema' from Latin problema (genitive problematis) 'problem', 'puzzle', 'enigma', 'question proposed for solution', from Ancient Greek πρόβλημα (problema, 'obstacle'), from προβάλλω (proballo, 'to throw or lay something in front of someone', 'to put forward'), from prefix προ- (pro-, 'in front of') + βάλλω (ballo, 'to throw', 'to cast', 'to hurl').

Laurel ÉCU2011   Laurel Silent River 2011

What is today's most important unreported story?

— Anonymous, USA

Should we have the right to choose where we live?

— Judy Twedt, 24, Denver, USA

What are the basic dignities that each human being deserves and why do we let so many people go without them?

— Claire Mackintosh, 25, Brisbane, Australia

What if all Chinese people want a car?

— Andrew, 22, Frankfurt, Germany

How does consumer culture actually influence the personalities, the ways people live, the way they think within a given culture? How does it become part of us and what does it mean to be able to resist that visual and verbal culture that seems to me is always reducing and simplifying reality into something that can be easily bought and sold?

— Siri Hustvedt, New York, USA

Does our wealth depend on the Third World being poor?

— Tom Henze, 30, Berlin, Germany

Is there a modern version of colonialism?

— Adrienn Meszaros, 30, Budapest, Hungary

Why do we still believe more in nationality than in humanity?

— Katharina, 24, Germany

How do we stop our governments from going to war?

— Glen, Capetown, South Africa

Why is there no peace in the Middle East yet?

— Moise Marabout, 23, Agades, Niger

Why is an Iranian nuclear bomb supposed to be more dangerous than an American, Israeli or French?

— Wolfgang Jost, 23, Berlin, Germany

Between non-violent resistance and armed struggle where do we go? What is effective? What is the right thing to do? Do we need a biodiversity of resistance?

— Arundhati Roy, New Delhi, India

What does courage mean now?

— Sara Francis, 35, Dublin, Ireland

What can I do, and tell others to do, to stop global warming?

— Nancy Clemons, 57, Cameron, Missouri, USA

Can a person be perceptive enough to see our planet in a way that tells them that they too are part of nature?

— Anonymous, USA

What is God's religion?

— Miraj Khaled, 30, Dhaka, Bangladesh

What are the myths that we need to create to change the world for the better?

— Kieth Dierkx, 48, Piedmont, California, USA
Hafsat Abiola
Founder, The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy
Willem Dafoe
Cofounder, The Wooster Group

Visual Archive (Film)

4 Elements (Jiska Rickels, courtesy of Fu Works)
500 Nations (W. T. Morgan, John Pohl, courtesy of Tig Productions)
Algeria's Bloody Years (courtesy of Article Z)
Die Alpen (courtesy of ORF)
Amazon (courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films)
Baraka (Ron Fricke, courtesy of Magidson Films, Inc.)
Barefoot Gen (Keiji Nakazawa, courtesy of Keiji Nakazawa)
Battle in Seattle (Stuart Townsend, courtesy of Insight Film Studios)
Beautiful Palestine a dropping knowledge film
Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Walter Ruttmann, courtesy of Eva Riehl)
The Big Sellout (Florian Opitz, courtesy of Majestic Filmverleih-GmbH)
Black Sea, Voyage of Healing (Peter Davis, courtesy of Villonfilms)
Bosna! (Alain Ferrari, Bernard-Henri Lévy, courtesy of Bernard-Henri Lévy)
The Charcoal People (Nigel Noble, courtesy of Magic Lantern Media)
Die Chinesischen Schuhe (Tamara Wyss, courtesy of Mediopolis Berlin)
Chocolate City by Dropping Knowledge
Clown in Kabul (Enzo Ballesrieri and Stefano Moser)
Consolation Service (Eija-Liisa Ahtila, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery)
Crossover (Kip Konwiser, Kern Konwiser, courtesy of Eyes of the World Media)
A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (Basil Gelpke, Ray McCormack, Reto Caduff, courtesy of Lava Productions)
Dar Fur – War for Water (Tomo Križnar, courtesy of Bela Film)
Darwin's Nightmare (Hubert Sauper, courtesy of Mille et Une Productions)
The Devil Came On Horseback (Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, courtesy of Break Thru Films)
Devil's Miner (Keith Davidson, Richard Ladkani, courtesy of Doc & Film International)
Dispatches: China's Stolen Children (courtesy of True Vision)
Earthlings (Shaun Moson, courtesy of Earth Nation)
Everest (courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films)
The Eye of the Day (Leonard Retel Helmrich, courtesy of Scarabee Filmproducties Nederland)
Extreme Engineering: Tokyo's Sky City (Peter Frumkin & Olympia Stone)
Faraway, So Close! (Wim Wenders, copyright Reverse Angle Library)
Fourth World War (Rick Rowley, courtesy of Big Noise Films)
Flow: For Love of Water (Irena Salina, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories and The Group Entertainment)
Gambling, Gods and LSD (Peter Mettler, courtesy of Grimthorpe Film)
The Heart of Jenin (Leon Geller, Marcus Vetter, courtesy of Eikon Media GmbH)
Illicit: The Dark Trade (Helen Fitzwilliam, Moisés Naím, courtesy of Moisés Naím)
Inside the Living Body (Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon, courtesy Pioneer Productions)
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, courtesy of Daylight Factory and Typecast Films)
Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, courtesy of Mosfilm)
Jakub (Jana Sevcikova, courtesy of LS Production)
Jesus Camp (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, courtesy of Loki Films)
Dar Fur – War for Water (Tomo Križnar, courtesy of Bela Film)
Dschungelburger (Peter Heller, courtesy of Filmkraft)
Hommage À Noir (Ralf Schmerberg, courtesy of triggerhappyproductions)
The Hour of Furnaces (Fernando Solanas, courtesy of Solanas Productions)
Kandahar (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, courtesy of Makhmalbaf Productions)
Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, courtesy of the Sante Fe Institute for Regional Education)
Liberia: An Uncivil War (Jonathan Stack, courtesy of Gabriel Films)
Life and Debt (Stephanie Black, courtesy of Stephanie Black)
Logorama (H5, courtesy of Autour de Minuit, H5, Addcit Films and CNC)
Die Macht der Gene (a Wall to Wall release Television Production)
Make Me Normal (Jonathan Smith, courtesy of Century Films Ltd. and C4I)
Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, courtesy of Mercury Films Inc.)
Marx und Eisenstein im Gleichen Haus (Alexander Kluge, courtesy of DCTP GmbH)
Matheran: Eine Hillstation in Indien (Bernd Schmidt-Burbach, courtesy of Progress Film Verleih GmbH)
Megacities (Michael Glawogger, courtesy of Paul Thiltges Distributions)
Megastructures: Dubai's Dream Palace (courtesy of Darlow Smithson Productions)
Metropolis (rights: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, sales: Transit Film GmbH)
Milosevic on Trial (Michael Christoffersen, courtesy of Team Productions)
The Miracle of Life (Mikael Agaton, Lennart Nilsson, courtesy of SVT Sales)
...More Than 1000 Words (Solo Avital, courtesy of MOOVIE the art of entertainment GmbH)
My Country, My Country (Laura Poitras, courtesy of Praxis Films)
Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, courtesy of the Flaherty/International Film Seminars, Inc.)
Napoleon (Abel Gance, courtesy of Cinematheque Francais)
Das Netz (Lutz Dammbeck, courtesy of Dammbeck Film Production Inc.)
Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, courtesy of Argos Films)
Nosferatu (rights: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, sales: Transit Film GmbH)
Original Child Bomb (Carey McKenzie, Holly Becker, animation of child on horse by Emily Hubley & Jeremiah Dickey)
Painting Reality (Akiz, courtesy of Iepe B.T. Rubingh)
Poem (Ralf Schmerberg, courtesy of triggerhappyproductions)
Powaqqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, courtesy of the Santa Fe Institute for Regional Education)
Promises (Carlos Bolado, Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg, courtesy of Promises Film Project, aerial footage courtesy of Beni Mor)
Proteus: A Nineteenth Century Vision (David Lebrun, courtesy of Lebrun Films)
Die das Rentier tanzen (Michael Dürr, Erich Kasten, courtesy of Michael Dürr & Erich Kasten)
The Road to Guantanamo (Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom, courtesy of Revolution Films)
Sacrifice (Ellen Bruno, courtesy of Bruno Films)
Sand and Sorrow (Paul Freedman, courtesy of Human Rights Watch)
The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)
Survival: The Plant That Cures Malaria (courtesy of Rockhopper TV)
The Take (Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein, courtesy of Barna-Alper Productions Inc.)
Trinity and Beyond (courtesy of VCE, Inc.)
Trouble: Teatime in Heiligendamm a film by the Mindpirates Summer Camp
Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (Craig Baldwin, courtesy of Other Cinema)
Triumph des Willens (Bundesarchiv / Transit Film GmbH)
Unreported World (courtesy of Quicksilver Media)
Viktor and Rolf: Because We're Worth It! (Femke Wolting, courtesy of Viktor & Rolf)
Visions of War: Hitler in His Own Words (courtesy of Demand Media & Alba Home Vision)
Was macht Werner in Hongkong? (courtesy of Bernd Schmidt-Burbach)
Water Wrackets by Peter Greenaway
We Are Together (Paul Taylor, courtesy of Rise Films)
We Feed the World (Erwin Wagenhofer, courtesy of Allegro Film)
Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki, courtesy of Charlotte Street Films)
Workingman's Death (Michael Glawogger, courtesy of Paul Thiltges Distributions)
A World of Conflict (Jeffrey Porter, footage of Iraq courtesy of Kevin Sites)
W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, courtesy of Janus Films)

Visual Archive (Art & Photography)

2003.2.1 by Fang Lijun (courtesy of Sammlung Hoffmann)
2004-2006 by Fang Lijun (courtesy of Today Art Museum, Beijing)
Abu Ghraib (Fernando Botero, courtesy of Marlborough Gallery)
The Ancient of Days by William Blake
Animal Locomotion by Eadward Muybridge
Arte Sacro de Maracaibo by Fernando Bracho Bracho
Pathway to Infinity (High Overview, Nazca, Peru) by Marilyn Bridges
Ascending Stairs by Eadward Muybridge
Assault Under Gas by Otto Dix
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
Baloon Debate by Banksy
Bloodlines: The Big Family by Zhang Xiaogang
Blow Up by Oli Gerscht (courtesy of Mummery + Schnelle Gallery)
Blut und Eisen by John Heartfield
Bühnenentwurf für Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' by K. F. Schinkel
Christ Giving His Blessing by Fernando Gallego
Christ of Valles by Salvador Dali
Circles Within A Circle by Vassily Kandinsky
Collective Invention by René Magritte
Dangerous garden by Luis Vidal
Dante and The Divine Comedy by Domenico di Michelino
Evening Landscape with Two Figures by Casper David Friedrich
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by John Martin
Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio
Drawings by Emma Kunz
Earth Hour by Billy Ivy (courtesy of the World Wildlife Federation of Canada)
The Execution of Emperor Maximilian by Édouard Manet
Exploding Raphaelesque Head by Salvador Dali
The False Mirror by René Magritte
Faust by Rembrandt
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man by Salvador Dali
Guernica by Pablo Picasso
Home by Anthony Gormley
Illustrations to The Divine Comedy by Gustave Doré
In the Car by Roy Lichtenstein
The Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David
James and Other Apes by James Mollison (courtesy of Chris Boot Ltd.)
The Book of Job: An Engraving by William Blake
Krieg und Leichen: Die Letzte Hoffnung der Reichen by John Heartfield
Kristall Kaleidoskop by Kage Mikrofotografie
Lady Godiva by John Collier
The Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden
Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
Das Lichtgebet von Fidus by Hugo Höppner
The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo
Crucifixion and Apotheosis of the Ten Thousand Martyrs by Vittore Carpaccio
Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso
McDonald's Nation by Chris Woods (courtesy of Gallery Jones)
Milton, A Poem by William Blake
Minuit by Miles Aldridge (courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery)
Moses Breaks the Tablets of the Law by Gustave Doré
Naissance d'une Galaxie by Max Ernst
Nagasaki Bombing by Yosuke Yamahata (courtesy of Shogo Yamahata)
No Title by Louise Bourgeois
No. 1 by Yang Shaobin (courtesy of Alexander Ochs Galleries)
OMO TRIBES by Hans Sylvester
Orthodoxymoron by Robbie Conal
Die Offenbarung by Henry de Waroquier
Die Pest by Arnold Böcklin
Portrait of Pope Innocent X. by Diego Velázquez
Pygmy by Jean-Pierre Hallet
P420083 by Kage Mikrofotografie
Running Skeletons (After Muybridge) by Nick Veasey
Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya
Several Circles by Vassily Kandinsky
Spatial Construction No. 9 (The Circle in the Circle) by Alexandro Rodchenko
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Francis Bacon
Study of Clouds by Michael Wutky
Sun and Life by Frida Kahlo
Sun Hopes by Joseph Cory
Sun Over The Park by J. F. Willumsen
Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt
Tank in Bratislava by Ladislav Bielik
Tarifa by Daniel Richter (courtesy of Contemporary Fine Arts)
The Tower of Babel by Pieter Breugel
Untitled No. 2 by Fang Lijun
Untitled by Yang Shaobin (courtesy of Ralf Schmerberg)
Untitled by Banksy
Untitled by Oliviero Toscani
The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
Vesuvius from Portici by Joseph Wright of Derby
The Widow I by Käthe Kollwitz
Woman with Veil by Odilon Redon
The Yellow Baron by Jonathan Meese

Visual Archive Courtesy of

ABC News Videosource
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Agenzia Fotograma
Agence VU
AKG Images
Amnesty International
AP Archive
AP Images
BBC Motion Gallery
VG Bildkunst
Bureau du Tibet, Paris
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Chronos Media GmbH
Conus Archive
ddp images/AP
Deutsche Welle
Deutsche Wochenschau
Discovery Footage Source
DPA Picture-Alliance
Agencia EFE
European Space Agency (ESA)
Everett Collection
GandhiServe Stiftung
Getty Images
Getty Motion
Greenpeace UK
Heritage Images
Hessischer Rundfunk (HR)
Hoover Institution
The Laogai Research Foundation
The Library of Congress
The National Labor Committee
Panos Pictures
Rue des Archives
Spiegel TV
Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive
Studio Hamburg Distribution & Marketing GmbH
Thought Equity Motion
Time Warner
United Nations
United States Air Force
United States Coast Guard
United States Customs and Border Protection
United States Department of Defense
United States Department of the Treasury
United States National Archives
Visual Concept Entertainment
WGBH Media Library and Archives
Wikimedia Commons
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Directed by

Ralf Schmerberg

Based on an Idea by

Cindy Gantz
Jackie Northway-Wallace
Ralf Schmerberg

Adapted for the Screen by

Joe Holden

Produced by

Andro Steinborn
Ben Schneider
Ralf Schmerberg

Original Music by

Rudolph Moser

Directors of Photography

Frank Griebe
Tom Henze
Robert Kummer
Franz Lustig

Nicola Pecorini

Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein

Nana Yuriko

Edited by

Ralf Schmerberg

Contributing Editors

Martin Swann
Robert Kummer

Re-Recording Mixer

Martin Steyer

Sound Design by

Dirk Jacob

Post-Production Producer

Lars Karich

Post-Production Manager

Boris Mang

Visual Research Supervisors

Nora Colie
Pauline Doutreluingne

Assistant Editor

Laura Fong

Zeppelin Operator

Jürgen Hohmuth

Zeppelin Camera

Ralf Brauner

Assembly Editing, Translation & Subtitling

Eremipagamo Amabebe
Errol Bailey
Joana Bértholo
Elinore Burke

Jeremy Cowie
Richard Davis
Manuel Dierkes
Lasse Jensen

Brian Kiel
Judith Lange
Susana Leal
Irene Mogollon

Megumi Nishikura
Annette Ochs
Hili Perlson
Tycho Pfäfflin

Kareth Schaffer
Darwin Silva-Torres
Mariya Stoyanova
Yang Song

Thomas Thistlethwaite
Ambika Thompson

Visual Research & Clearance

Göran-Adrian Bellin
Amel Bouksani
Rachel de Joode
Cecily Hamilton Baillie

Fernanda Goriba
Kim June
Marlien Koch
Max Merz

Judith Landkammer
Polly Robbins
Sofia Uguccioni
Martin Wenke

Assistant Researchers

Kevin Klein
Mariana Polke de Castro
Masa Loncaric
Nina Salzer
Yero Schutte

Special Clearance

Michael Konstabel

Online Editors

Stefan Klinker
Mathias Niepenberg

Assistant Online Editors

Tom Kaufhold
David Kuruc

Stage Mixing

ARRI Film & TV Berlin

Sound Editors

Benjamin Hörbe
Dominik Schleier

Sound Mix Technician

Michael Wolf

Post-production Facility

Das Werk

Producer at Das Werk

Wolf Bosse


Nico Hauter
Philipp Orgassa

Post-production Coordinators

John Hansen
Matthias Knoefler

Music Supervisor

Peter Weiss

Title Design by

Ebon Heath
Easton West

Executive Assistant to Ralf Schmerberg

Christian Schmid

Production Assistants

Joanne Guillon
Kimberley Miller

I.T. Support

Roland Brehe

Production Accountant

Uta Abt

Mindpirates Project Manager

Felix Vogler


Bureau N, Silke Neumann & Moritz Estermann


performed by Morpho Cinetose
written by Simon Brasset
courtesy of Morpho Cinetose
published by

Future Rock
Paul Dickow
courtesy of Kranky
published by Kranky Records

Plan, Steel, Drive
performed by Chris Martin & Kinski
courtesy of Subpop Records
published by Cargo Records

courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment GmbH
published by Universal Music/Rondor Music

Water (Part Two)
performed by Steamhammer
published by Bellaphon Germany

Alte Frau
performed by Mosermeyerdöring
courtesy of Mosermeyerdöring
published by Ballhaus Entertainment

Enter the Heretic
performed by Raz Mesinai
courtesy of Asphodel Ltd.
pubished by Asphodel Records

Miracle of Love
Michael Gira
courtesy of Young God Records
published by Young God Records

Black Sabbath
courtesy of Universal Music
published by Essex Music

Annette Vande Gorne
performed by Annette Vande Gorne
published by YMX MeDIA

Ti, Ki Izziva
performed by Laibach
courtesy of Cherry Red Records
published by Universal Music Ltd.

performed by Mosermeyer
courtesy of Mosermeyer
published by Ballhaus Entertainment

The Table of Free Voices

Bebelplatz, Berlin

Directed by

Ralf Schmerberg

Assistant Director

Sandra Schaede

Executive Producer

Jolanda Darbyshire

Logistics Director

Katrin Lewinsky

Assistant Director, Logistics

Christopher Trott

Script by

Joe Holden

Timekeeping by

Deborah Rogers

I.T. Director

Evan Schechtman

I.T. Operators

James Jenkins
Irene Mogollon

Production Assistant

Nina Klapproth

Logistics Assistant

Nico Blankenhorn

Still Photographers

Ali Ghandtschi
Steffen Roth
Donata Wenders

The Table of Free Voices
designed by

Million Devushka Architekten

dropping knowledge
founded by

Cindy Gantz
Jackie Northway-Wallace
Ralf Schmerberg

Executive Director

Ralf Schmerberg


Uta Abt

Chief Operating Officers

Izabel Mellinghoff
Nina Neelsen

Participant Relations Director

Eva Stein

Creative Directors

Alex Marashian
Andreas Läufer

Communications Director

Felix Servas

Online Unit Director

Eric Mahleb

Lead Technologist

Jakob Uszkoreit

Scientific Director

Hans Uszkoreit

Chief Liaison Officer

Celia Gräfin von Bismarck

Financial Controller

Ursula Schweighart

Fundraising Coordinator

Bettina Pabst


Boris Hoffmann-Plato

Executive Assistants

Leander Rappmann
Rosa Coco Schinagl

Participant Relations Managers

Hemma Crain
Barbara Lutz
Claudia Beate Reschke
Labeira Galarza
Tina Balla

Participant Relations Researchers

Delphi Breger
Stefanie Freimuth
Frederike Schinagl

Participant Relations Consultants

Thomas Hartmann
Petra Stegmann

Questions Editor

Deborah Rogers

Art Directors

Johannes Koblenz
Rupert Smyth


Ebon Heath
Tina Hennefarth
Lena Mahr

Image Researchers

Julia Berg
Rachel de Joode
Adrienn Meszaros
Valerie Stahl von Stromberg


Joe Holden
Valdis Wish


Susanna Forrest
Hili Perlson
Johannes Thumfart
Marie Winfield

Print Managers

Alexander Müller
Cordula Sieckmann

Creative Producer

Sandra Schaede

Film Editor

Robert Kummer

Assistant Editor

Hendrik Löbbert

Post-production Supervisor

Jens Maier-Rothe

Web Developers

Oliver Berger
Marco Stahl

Web Designer

Christine Müller


Sven Helemann

Flash Designer

David Loehr

Information Architect

Matthias Weitbrecht

Web Consultant

James Kalbach

Deputy Director, Communications

Thomas Reemer

Communications Managers

Astrid von Diechmann
Astrid Falter
Daniel Kruse
Lucie Menz
Martina Wagner

Communications Assistants

Svenja Hintz
Simone Schmidt
Felipe Ferrari

Communications Consultants

Annette Barner
Dagmar Seidel

I.T. Support

Alexander Marschall
Stephan Hantigk

Logistics Support

Sasha Horsley
Nina Hüskes


Martine Vernazobres
Daniel Ben-Sorge

Human Resources

Reinhard Böse

Legal Services

Hogan & Hartson Raue LLP

D.K.I. Director

Ceasar McDowell

Creative Director

Cindy Gantz

Creative Producer

Jackie Northway-Wallace

Project Consultant

Jacqui Lindsay


Ellen Furnari

Project Associate

Ian Manheimer

Creative Consultants

Betsy Campbell
Adam Werbach

Participant Relations

Tara Kurland

Project Coordinators

Nadine Friedman
Patience Monroe

Project Developer

Dan Geiger

Communications Consultants

Colette Brooks
Melinda Ann Farrell David Steuer

D.F.K.I. Chief Administrator

Stephan Busemann

Software Development Manager

Feiyu Xu

Software Development Administrator

Brigitte Jörg

Network Administrator

Markus Bolz

Transcription Supervisor

Jörg Steffen

Senior Software Engineer

Witold Drozdzynski

Software Engineers

Bernd Kiefer
Volker Morbach

Assistant Software Engineer

Robert Barbey

Assistant Content Developers

Elizabeth de Sousa Pinto
Christian Schreyer

Technical Consultants

Georg Demme
Rainer Jochem

Translation & Transcription by

Zaki Al Saadawi
Nadja Altabari
Nader Altabari
Urbain Atsague Tchino
Elisa Azevedo
Anja Borowski
Lina Cepurnaite
Yu Chen
Irina Chyzh
Olha Condor
Elizabeth de Sousa Pinto
Astrid Felsner
Anne Gorius
Esther Fränken
Hanno Gorius
Olga Grigorieva
Tina Hadamitzky
Christine Knauss
Ana Leiner Rivera
Dennis Leser
Michiko Masuch-Furukawa
Marcelo Matoso Silveira
Markus Mesmer
Heike Mißler
Kateryna Mysak
Kristina Ohr
Daniel Salariu
Bärbel Schlimbach
Oliver Schumacher
Judith Selig
Atsuko Shimada
Ryoko Shimizu
Yordanka Staab
Sascha Sudik
Min Ye
Chaoqun Zhu

The Table of Free Voices Volunteers

Max Adam
Mona Agbalaka
Rebecca Agbodjan
Sara Ahmed
Iman Al-Barwani
Christabelle Aranha
Asuka Ashida
Ulla Baylührssen
Dirk Beckmann
Ximena Benavente
Che Bergendahl
Moritz Bittner
Emily Bowden
Judith Brunk
Véronique Cabois
Benjamin Cantu
Pascal Casper
Bernhard Chwalka
Gita Cooper-van Ingen
Seumas Coutts
Eva-Maria Damm
Angela Dansie
Janine Deutsche
Mark Eberhardt
Arne Eichberg
Ludwig Engel
Miriam Faßbender
Marcus Entelmann
Jens Feddersen
Filine Fink
Mareike Franczak
Mario Garcia
Philipp Garra
Julian Gaynor
Juliana Gonzales
Seth Greenwald
Ruth Gugliemi
Korina Gutsche
Philipp Hartmann
Nicholas Hasko
Julius Hassemer
Joseph Heaven
Fabian Heuer
Tina Höfinghoff
Meredith Holmgren
Filiz Igret
Simon Ilse
Felix Ilse
Neela Jayaramann
Bernard Jungk
Lena Junker
Sebastian Kaul
Antje Klein
Johanna Kleinschrot
Katharina Knaus
Andrea Koc
Philipp Köhn
Astrid Kühne
Adrian Künzel
Carel Kuschke
Yosra Labidi
Merten Lagatz
Daniel Lange
Henri Laupmaa
Susana Leal
Anne-Sophie Levet
Deborah Ligorio
Lukas Mahr
Rachel Michael
Stefan Mixdorf
Alejandro Monges
Gal Mor
Julia Mussgnug
Lutz Neumann
Lev Nordstrom
Pascal Notz
Dorit Nuriel
Annette Ochs
Gülseren Ölcüm
Johanna Paul
Julia Persitzky
Inga Pfafferoth
Frederik Pferdt
Nadja Pietkowski
Burkhard Piller
Elisabeth Press
Christiane Reinstrom
Edina Ribic
Angelina Richter
Oliver Rizzi Carlson
Denoal Rouaud
Sylvia Ruß
Frédérique Rouault
Alejandra Santa
Judy Schlesinger
Astrid Schmidhuber
Daniel Schmutzler
Katja Sommer
Janina Sprenger
Sebastian Stache
Sven Stephani
Alexander Stetter
Jörg Suckow
Karumuttu Sundaram
Joni Taylor
Uwe Thomas
Dave Tinning
Alvin Tong
Tülin Üzsacan
Maarten Vermeiren
Christian Vogel
Christina Voigt
Arist von Hehn
Marius von Holleben
Juliane Wagner
Michael Weber
Philipp Weidemann
Mirjam Wenzel
Kaj Wibier
Marcin Wieczorek
Thorsten Wiesemann
Jonna Winger
Philipp Wittulsky
Alexander Wolf
Maria Elena Zayas
Crisjan Zöllner

Volunteer Team Coordinators

Clémentine Charlemaine
Desiree Zwanck
Sonja Schreiner

Guest Management by

Irena Akopjan
Paz Làzaro
Heike Lamm
Winfried Weiss

Guest Hospitality by

Humboldt University of Berlin
Hotel InterContinental Berlin
Hotel de Rome

Organizational Supporters

Aktion Weisses Friedensband

BiG Imagination Group
The City of Berlin

Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Cinema for Peace

The Club of Budapest
Creative Commons
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ)
Deutsche Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI)

The European Institute for the Media
The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International)
GhandiServe foundation
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)

The Goethe-Institut (GI)
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
The International Forum on Globalization (IFG)

Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin
Internet Archive

Link TV
Media Access Project

Outpost Digital

Peace Women Across the Globe
People for the American Way

Pleon GmbH

Rainforest Action Network
Saarland University
Schmidt und Kaiser Kommunikationsberatung

The Stewart R. Mott Foundation
Teen Talking Circles

Tibet House
Tides Center

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM)

Special Thanks

Allianz Group
The Mark and Sharon Bloome Foundation
The John M. O'Quinn Foundation
The Joy Family Foundation
The Wallace Global Fund
Volkswagen AG
everyone who ever gave us a donation

Sebastião Salgado
Siri Hustvedt
Qin Chuan
Tanya Scott
Naseem Salaam
Shanta Chatterji
Elliot Chikoma
Daryl Hannah
Arik W. Ascherman
Frederick Wedin
Juana Rodriguez
Laurie Anderson
Judy Twedt
Mikki Brammer
Tom Henze
Adrienn Meszaros
Moise Marabout
Arundhati Roy
Sara Francis
Nancy Clemons
Miraj Khaled
Kieth Dierkx
everyone who ever gave us a question

Very Special Thanks

Hafsat Abiola
Anthony Arnove
Joe Berlinger
Sabine Christiansen

Robbie Conal
Ray Cooper
Brenda Coughlin
Willem Dafoe
Hans Peter-Dürr
Ute & Roland Emmerich
Fang Lijun
Giora Feidman
Dagmar Forelle
Ellen Furnari
Cindy Gantz
Susan George
Don Hazen
Allan Hunt-Badiner
Bianca Jagger
Matthias Hohlbach
Oliver Kaiser
Jon Kamen
Andreas & Justine Läufer
Lawrence Lessig
Yungchen Lhamo
Jacqui Lindsay
Angaangaq Lyberth
Vicky Malo
Jerry Mander
Alex & Vida Marashian
Ceasar McDowell
Jonathan Meese
Eva Meier-Schönung
Anuradha Mittal
Jackie Northway-Wallace
Alexander Ochs
Oscar Olivera
Sydney Possuelo
Peter Raue
Theo Reichert
Wolfgang Riehn
Felix Servas
Heinz Siepmann
Eva Stein
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Josh Taft
Nicolai Tewes
Robert Thurman
Hans Uszkoreit
Randall Wallace
Kurt Weidemann
Stephan Vens
Martine Vernazobres
Wim & Donata Wenders
Gordon Wojcickowski
Yang Shaobin
Joseph Zen Ze-kiun
the City of Berlin
all of our children
all of our parents

© 2010, Conscious Revolution gbr


Opening table Panorama (PHOTO: Reiner Pfisterer)

One bright day in the early 21st Century, there was a gathering of human beings unlike any before.

In the historic heart of Berlin, Germany, over 100 people from all walks of life and all round the world joined in a single circle. Seated together at the world's largest round table, they had come to speak on behalf of themselves and others, to rediscover how much they don't know and how much they do.


table Overview
(PHOTO: Donate Wenders)

On Saturday, September 9th, 2006, the Berlin square called 'the Bebelplatz' was spanned by a monolithic, architectural circle within circles, a vast round table at which 114 chairs faced 114 continuously recording cameras. Reflected within their collective lens, an unprecedented art event and political summit convened, a gathering dedicated to addressing 100 questions originally raised online by people on seven continents.

Voicing the questions aloud before the assembly were the event's co-moderators, human rights advocate Hafsat Abiola and actor Willem Dafoe. Over a six-hour mind-marathon spread over a nine-hour day, each question received up to 112 responses given face to face, directly to camera, by the participants of the Table of Free Voices. Captured additionally by roving film cameras streaming live online, this transparent, technologically enhanced, 21st Century conference enabled all voices to be raised simultaneously while also being individually heard.

Delivered collectively in as many as 20 languages, by 120 participants over the course of the event, the 11,200 individual responses filmed were all published the Internet within three days, under a 'Copyleft' license, at More than 1,000 hours of footage was ultimately recorded at perhaps the most comprehensively visually documented one-day gathering ever convened.


Postcard: What's your question?
(PHOTO © OSTKREUZ / Sibylle Bergemann, IMAGE by dropping knowledge)

A vivid celebration of the symbolic power of cultural diversity and creative free expression, the Table of Free Voices marked the three-year culmination of the not-for-profit social media project, dropping knowledge. Founded in the summer of 2003 by filmmaker Ralf Schmerberg, artist and designer Cindy Gantz and philanthropist-activist Jackie Northway-Wallace, dropping knowledge combined Gantz and Northway-Wallace's ideas for an interactive web-platform based around people's questions with Schmerberg's vision of a one-day meeting in which wise people could freely share their knowledge with the world.

Based initially in Berlin and San Francisco, after two years of fundraising, administrative groundwork and research into possible Table participants, in September 2005 dropping knowledge announced a global call for questions relating to themes of social and conscious, individual and societal, change. Over the following year, tens of thousands of questions were submitted to the project's website by a global community of questioners. Hundreds of these were showcased in questions-based media created by the project's in-house team of editors, designers and visual researchers. Filmmakers traveled internationally for dropping knowledge, actively seeking questions to ensure an authentically global sample was dynamically visually represented online. At the climax of this 'Ask Yourself' campaign, a select 100 of the top 1,000 user-voted questions were chosen by the project's organizers and consultants to be asked at the Table of Free Voices.

Meanwhile, invitations had gone out to over 100 special individuals, all of whom were bold, brilliant, concerned or plain crazy enough to confirm their participation in an unprecedented experiment. Each had been approached on account of their life's work having had some creative, humanistic cultural impact. Each agreed to share their knowledge in response to people's questions — to reveal their passion, conviction, wisdom and vulnerability — on camera for one day.


Table Previsualization
(PHOTO: Reiner Pfisterer, IMAGE by dropping knowledge)

Officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest round table ever made, the Table of Free Voices measured 38 meters in diameter and over 119 in circumference. Within and around it in the week leading up to the event, dropping knowledge's full and part-time staff expanded to encompass over 100 volunteers, come to Berlin to share in the project's open spirit of democratic inquiry and people-powered, cross-cultural exchange.

Financed primarily by thousands of online micro-donations, the gathering also received financial and advisory support from corporations, foundations, cultural institutions and non-governmental organizations. The United Nations Development Programme opened its contact book; the then Vice-Chancellor of Germany became the event's patron; future Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus saluted dropping knowledge as "a great initiative at the right time"; and the gathering received a personal blessing from Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.

Though neither the participants sitting at the Table of Free Voices, nor those working behind the scenes to realize its success, really had a good idea beforehand of what would actually transpire on the day itself, the gathering was in the end favored by a profound atmosphere of communal inspiration (and aspiration), mutual encouragement (and empowerment) and, thankfully, decent weather. One member of the public, stood with the crowd of curious bystanders congregating beyond the Table's perimeter, seemed to speak for many when he described the experience as "an art performance of electrifying energy... I can't hear what the participants are saying and my back hurts, but I just can't leave. I am going to stand here all through this thing. This is so powerful... It really gets you."


Bebelplatz Memorial
(PHOTO: Aaron Siirila, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Amid the paving-stones of Berlin's Bebelplatz, there is a single glass pane, a window onto a blank white room, empty but for empty white bookshelves. The creation of sculptor Micha Ulman, this subsurface exhibit is a permanent memorial marking the spot where, on May 10, 1933, a bonfire was set ablaze.

That evening, in a speech broadcast live to the nation by radio from the square in central Berlin then called the Opernplatz, the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda proclaimed the destruction by fire of "Un-German" writings "a strong, great and symbolic deed." Over 25,000 books were burned that night in ceremonial gatherings across Nazi Germany. Among those cast to the flames was Heinrich Heine's play Almansor, in which it's written: Das war ein Vorspiel, nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen. ('This was just a prelude, where they burn books, in the end they also burn people.')

Where once these words were ritually incinerated, today, they are engraved in stone. Throughout the day of the Table of Free Voices, the gathering's focal center was this window onto empty silence, as the air above it reverberated with the collective hum of uncensored voices raised freely.


Angaangaq Lyberth with his qilaut drum. (PHOTO:Ali Ghandtschi)

Long before he made a film, Ralf Schmerberg was thinking about a meeting at which people could share the wisdom of their understanding, one that could be filmed to connect others with their words. This intention — to use cinema to re-vivify the oral tradition in which he'd found meaning when young — stayed with Schmerberg, from around the day he heard J. Krishnamurti speak until one day years later in Bebelplatz when the vision was real.

PROBLEMA is that gathering, lovingly rendered as imaginative, art cinema to be projected on the screen of the mind. Distilled from over 1,000 hours of footage, shaped out of individual monologue into rhythmic, multilingual 'multilogue', the panoply of perspectives recorded at the Table of Free Voices would eventually be overlayered with pictures in a process styled by Schmerberg 'editing into the subconscious'. Embedded with over 1,200 visual artefacts, PROBLEMA transports the words spoken in Bebelplatz into the larger world, amplifying their resonance by combining them with film, art and photography from humanity's collective cultural memory.

Dependent at every stage of its production on harnessing the democratizing potential of information technologies, PROBLEMA exists thanks to the generous contributions of many who influenced its creation: from those who gave permission to feature their footage and artwork, to those who volunteered their time and labor, to those who raised a question or made a micro-donation, to the participants who gave of their hearts and minds freely around the Table of Free Voices. In this sense, PROBLEMA is an authentically not-for-profit film, offered to audiences in the same spirit of giving that endlessly informed its realization.

Experiential art cinema that talks with you face to face, created not to be sold but distributed freely, PROBLEMA is available in multiple formats at different resolutions.


DVD PAL disc image (.iso)
4.4GB, 720x576, 25fps
DVD NTSC disc image (.iso)
4.4GB, 720x480, 29.97fps
BluRay PAL disc image (.toast)
20.4GB, 1920x1080, 25fps
720p video file (.mov)
3.3GB, H.264, 1280x720, 25fps
Download Mirror link

DVD Covers

Printable DVD cover and label
7.2MB ZIP archive, contains PDF files


111.6kb (.srt)
91.9kb (.srt)
95.6kb (.srt)
English (Basic)
21kb (.srt)
99.8kb (.srt)
98kb (.srt)
110kb (.srt)
97.2kb (.srt)
143kb (.srt)
All languages (ZIP archive)
288.9kb ZIP archive (contains .srt files)


The Problema DVD is packaged in a high quality, custom made card and paper DVD case with high quality offset printing. It features collage graphics from the film poster and gold foil stamped cover and spine. Limited copies available!

Purchase the PROBLEMA DVD
High quality offset print with gold stamp


A three-weeks-in-the-making collage collaboration involving the printing, cutting, arranging (and rearranging) of over 350 images from the film. The PROBLEMA film poster is printed with extremely high standards featuring gold ink on quality paper. Limited copies available!

Purchase the PROBLEMA film poster in A1 (594 x 841mm)
Handstamped and handnumbered

Purchase the PROBLEMA film poster in A0 (841 × 1189mm)
Handstamped and handnumbered

A human dialogue around the world's largest table.

An unprecedented philosophical art cinema experience, PROBLEMA is a film that looks at you as you watch it, that speaks to you in a multilingual mantra made of the voices of over 100 people from all around the world. Distilled from over 1,000 hours of footage and embedded with imagery from our collective cultural memory, the film is a not-for-profit production to be shared freely with audiences worldwide. Concerning seventeen questions for homo sapiens (the 'wise human'), PROBLEMA asks you to ask yourself...

  • Hafsat Abiola
  • Ralf Schmerberg and Hafsat Abiola
  • Hafsat Abiola, Ralf Schmerberg and Willem Dafoe
  • Anurada Koirala
  • Bianca Jagger
  • Cornel West
  • Jonathan Meese
  • Ralf Schmerberg
  • Willem Dafoe
  • Table Of Questions
  • Table Panorama
  • Table Setup
  • Table Overview
  • Wim Wenders

DURATION: 95 minutes
LOCATION: Bebelplatz, Berlin, Germany
LANGUAGES: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Danish, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Bantu.
EUROPEAN PREMIERE: Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (September 2, 2010)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE: 46th International Chicago Film Festival (October 16, 2010)
SOUTH AMERICAN PREMIERE: Mostra — São Paolo International Film Festival (October 24, 2010)
WORLD RELEASE: December 6, 2010

For all publicity inquiries, please contact:
BUREAU N Silke Neumann, Moritz Estermann

"defies categorization… astoundingly edited… this visceral, mind-blowing film is required viewing." —46th Chicago International Film Festival

"like a symphony of the world" — Ferdy on Films

"a Babel of talking heads" — Chicago Sun-Times

"hugely moving... an event documentary that demands to be seen on the big screen... it is the best film I have seen so far this year." —

"one of the most thought-provoking and stimulating intellectual exercises ever recorded… a film that grabs the viewer in an emotional manner rarely seen in progressive cinema." —People's World


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