Film about Bertolt Brecht being shot at Berkeley City Club

Three extras outside the Berkeley City Club, on location for the shooting of "Witness 11". Photo: Sandy Friedland

Noticed some anachronistic goings-on down at the Berkeley City Club on Durant? Why, that would be because Berkeley writer/director Sean Mitchell and his production crew are shooting Witness 11, a short film based on the testimony of German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht during the height of the 1940s Red Scare.

Sandy Friedland spotted the film crew on location on Sunday and sent in the photos shown here. “You should see some of the clothes they were wearing,” she writes. “Lots of bright red lipstick and hats on the women and suits and ties for the gentlemen. I swear my mother wore the same dresses and hats the week she married my father.”

Witness 11 draws on historical events through the eyes of Brecht as he is called to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. His testimony followed the famous Hollywood 10 who were sent to jail for refusing to answer questions from lawmakers. Brecht did answer questions.

Even actors need to eat: the commissary table for the on-location crew of "Witness 11" in Berkeley Sunday. Photo: Sandy Friedland

“What originally caught my attention was the actual testimony of Bertolt Brecht and his ability to navigate through the situation while maintaining his honor,” said Mitchell in a release, who is launching a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the movie’s post-production phase.


The film is being shot in black-and-white using several high-definition RED cameras. Mitchell, a finalist for an American Zoetrope award for his full-length feature screenplay, “The Last Duel in Scotland,” created this film because of his interest in Brecht’s conflict and bravery.

“It is fascinating to hear a family man, in an incredibly tough situation, try to stay out of prison without betraying himself, or his friends,” he said.

Filming began on March 18 and is scheduled to wrap today, Tuesday, March 20, at the Berkeley City Club. For more information visit the Witness 11 Facebook page or its Kickstarter campaign page.

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