Friday, October 25, 2013

ESPN Films - Nine for IX - The Diplomat

In August, Sharon, Jack and I watched The Diplomat. This is the sixth film in a new series from ESPN films. Called Nine for IX (as in Title IX), the series includes films about women made by women. With everything going in at work and home, I have gotten behind in writing about the Nine for IX films and watching the new 30 for 30 films that came out in October.

At the height of the Cold War, Katarina Witt became one of East Germany's most famous athletes. Witt dominated figure skating by winning six European titles (1983-88), four world championships (1984-85, 1987-88) and back-to-back Olympic gold medals (1984 and 1988).

Rare for East German athletes, Witt started a professional career in 1988. She spent three years on tour in the United States with Brian Boitano. Later, she continued at Holiday on Ice in the United States and in western Europe. She also became an actress in the film Carmen on Ice (1989), which expanded upon her gold medal free program in Calgary. In 1990, she received an Emmy Award for her role in this film.

While the film explores Witt career, it is as much about her relationship and status with the East German government. She grew up, trained and competed in a very centrally controlled nation state.  While she struggled to maintain some control over her career, the East German government struggled to maintain control over Witt and keep her as the face of the country.  Following the dissolution of East Germany, Stasi files were found to show that the secret police had worked hard to keep Witt from defecting by giving her cars, accommodations, and permitted travel. Witt found that the secret police had more 3,000 pages on her life from the age of eight.

This is solid a documentary, but not one of my favorites.

The Diplomat is available on iTunes.

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