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The Sun Island is an essay film about coincidences, shattered lives and posthumous fame. A found footage family film about love and passion, friendship and heartbreak set in Frankfurt and Berlin between the wars (1927-1935), during WWII and into the present. It includes the history of the Frankfurt Großmarkhalle – a landmark building of the International Style – before and after its acquisition by the European Central Bank, as part of its new headquarters. But The Sun Island is also a film about the origins of the green movement: about recycling, sustainability, and living off the grid – before these ideas had been properly invented.
The Sun Island documents the life and professional career of Martin Elsaesser (1884-1957), architect and chief city planner in Frankfurt (Germany) from 1925 to 1932. The controversial acquisition of the Frankfurt Central Market by the European Central Bank is the ostensible occasion to weave the building's turbulent history into Martin Elsaesser's biography, his wife Liesel’s liaison with notable landscape architect Leberecht Migge, and the director’s own family history.
Thomas Elsaesser is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Media & Culture at the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2012 he was Visiting Professor at Yale University, and since 2013 teaches part-time at Columbia University, New York. He is the grandson of the renowned German architect Martin Elsaesser, one of the subjects of The Sun Island. He is also the co-editor of Martin Elsaesser – Schriften (Niggli, 2014) and of Martin Elsaesser und das Neue Frankfurt (Wasmuth, 2009).