NEW YORK -- Katarina Witt knows times have changed at her home in Berlin, but she was reminded again while planning her recent trip to America the Tribeca Film Festival.
"Jumping on an airplane, coming to America, filling it out on the Internet -- it's so easy [now]," Witt said. "In the past, it was tough. When did I have a passport in my own hands? Only when you go to a competition, the authorities would give it you. You come back home, they take it right away so you couldn't travel on your free spirit. ... There were a lot of obstacles around."
These obstacles are outlined in the documentary The Diplomat, which chronicles Witt's rise to becoming one of the East Germany's most successful athletes at the height of the Cold War. The film debuted at the festival April 20 as part of ESPN's Nine for IX series, and the 50-minute documentary will air Aug. 6 on ESPN.
The tease summarizes it accurately: "The world was watching. So was the government." The film begins in 1961, four years before Witt's birth, the year the Berlin Wall rose. It runs through her upbringing in the East German foothills city of Karl-Marx-Stadt (since renamed), her 1984 and '88 Olympic triumphs and the fall of the wall Nov. 9, 1989.