a feature documentary by Manuel Fenn

May 5th, 2021

Spring 2020 – suddenly the world stands still. On every continent, people find themselves in a lockdown. The world as we know it is past. What will come is uncertain. An invisible virus is challenging societies. People are thrown back on themselves.

Twelve intimate portraits from twelve places in a fragile world.

During the lockdown a mother sees her baby taking its first steps and longs for her family. A geriatric nurse buries an old woman in a foreign country. A blind man hears a whole other world. A homeless pizza delivery man knows that he is important and that he lacks the most important thing: an apartment. A married couple has to face a relationship crisis that has lasted for years. A DJ writes songs about the apocalypse and is more creative than ever. A young woman returns to the world of her ultra-orthodox childhood. A clinic employee goes through a separation out of love and takes care of others. A single shoe shiner worries about the safety of her daughter. A Martial Arts trainer from China is looking for social integration in a foreign world. The residents of an indigenous village seal themselves and construct a building for the infected as a precaution. And on the outskirts of a city shepherds drive their flocks undeterred to a spring like every day.

Twelve stories about the power of the human beyond silence.


Written & Directed byManuel Fenn
Edited byAntonia Fenn
Creative ConsultantsMichele Cinque & Andreas Pichler
MusicJahn Kehlchen & Eckart Gadow
Re-recordig MixerOlaf Mehl
Commissioning Editor ZDF/3SatUdo Bremer
Executive ProducerRené Frotscher & Thomas Jeschner
Line ProducerVolker Zobelt
Production AssistantLouise Wilke
World Unit DirectorsAli Mohammad Ghasemi * Tehran / Iran
Yihwen Chen * Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia
Gundula Beckmann * Haifa / Israel
Dimitrii Pervushin * Moskau / Russia
Victor Magrath * Rio de Janeiro / Brazil
Joseph Mucheru * Nairobi / Kenya
Agostina Guala * London / Great Britain
Valerio Ciriaci * New York / USA
Michele Cinque * Rom / Italy
Takuma Kurikuro * de Kurikuro / Brazil
Julio Weiss * Cochabamba / Bolivia
Manuel Fenn & Sophia Fenn * Berlin / Germany
Sound PostproductionMetrix Media, Halle
Visual PostproductionCineplus, Leipzig
Translation & SubtitlesDigim Images, Halle


In March 2020, when Germany faced its first lockdown, the producers of Sundayfilm and I had the idea to shoot a documentary about the pandemic from a broad, global perspective. At that time many were shocked but also fascinated about what a virus is able to reveal and unleash in this world. We wanted to create a cinematic testimony to this unique phenomenon – aside from numbers, facts and experts’ opinions that the media was already flooded with. We wanted to know: How does the pandemic affect people and their lives? How do humans deal with a life-threatening and unknown situation, what consequences do they draw from it? All in all, we were interested in how a global crisis affects people on a very personal level.

What followed, was a great cinematic adventure for all of us – and ultimately an experiment. Our team, including fellow directors Michele Cinque, Andreas Pichler and editor Antonia Fenn, quickly found twelve directors from all over the world who were willing to join our project. After receiving the raw material, we started to realize what the appeal and challenge of the editing process would be, because these twelve narratives could not have been more different in terms of content and style. It was though our ambition to tell a coherent story out of 160 hours of diverse raw material from six months of filming.

First and foremost, our appreciation goes out to the protagonists. They allowed a camera to follow them around in a state of emergency, they shared their thoughts and gave us intimate insights into their lives. The pandemic made them face their vulnerability, but also their ability to deal with it. Despite their differences, all of the protagonists were suddenly forced to live a simple life with constraints and sacrifice – a bitter pill for anyone living in a globalized, efficiency-driven world full of personal freedoms.

I hope we succeeded in creating a touching and authentic picture of the pandemic’s first year. The people in it do not lack strength nor will to heal the wounds that the pandemic caused and to take something positive from this crisis. Who knows, maybe our movie is able to keep conveying optimism, despite never-ending hardships and personal tragedies that we continuously face.

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Countries of OriginBolivia, Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Iran,
Israel, Italy, Kenia, Malaysia, Russia, USA
Production Period2020 – 2021
Run Times119 min
52 min
Aspect Ratio16:9
Sound Format5.1 Digital
Original LanguagesGerman, Englisch, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Kiswahili
Polish, Malay, Persian, Hebrew, Russian


An emotional but above all deeply human film.”

“In a word: Despite the contemporary tendency for escapism, this film is a blessing!”

“An impressive document of this period. It does not tell the facets of the disease, it portrays how people manage not to give up in the most difficult situations.”
“Those little stories, opulently brought into the picture, make up a highly appealing film.”

“A melancholic and wise motion picture that celebrates life – most beautifully in the aerial footage of an Iranian shepherd and his herd.”

“World Beyond Silence evokes a feeling of solidarity. Its stories are deeply touching but even inspire a deep feeling of confidence and optimism.”

“A film that preserves this strangely enraptured time, but you should watch it very closely.”

“Perhaps the most interesting film about Covid-19, as it shows what silence conceals rather than narrating it.”


supported by
Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung,

produced by
Sunday Filmproduktion

co-produced by

World Sales
Java Films, France,