Film programme and discussions with a focus on Belarus

Curated by Marina Naprushkina and Agnieszka Kilian


Stories, continued

Films with absent protagonists, after the GDR, after 1990

Curated by Anna Zett and Philipp Goll


Critical Conditions

Fields of action in the environmental crisis

Curated by Sarnt Utamachote, Malve Lippmann, Rosalia Namsai Engchuan and Pia Chakraverti-Würthwein & Eirini Fountedaki


Curated by Eirini Fountedaki, Cornelia Lund & Holger Lund (fluctuating images), Philip Rizk and Shohreh Shakoory


Curated by Popo Fan, Tobias Hering, Malve Lippmann, Branka Pavlovic, Can Sungu, Sarnt Utamachote and Florian Wüst


Director Aylin Kuryel and Fırat Yücel Turkey 2019

57 min, OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Aylin Kuryel and Fırat Yücel

Director Furqan Faridi, Ashfaque EJ, Shaheen Ahmed and Vishu Sejwal India 2019

43, OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Shivramkrishna Patil and Susanne Gupta


KuirFest Berlin 2019

Queer Feminist Rebels

Curated by Pembe Hayat KuirFest / Pink Life QueerFest, Esma Akyel and Esra Özban




Director Afraa Batous Syria, Lebanon 2015

82 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Lisa Jöris and Afraa Batous



Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families

Curated by Malve Lippmann and Can Sungu


BITTER THINGS – Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families is a research-based exhibition project by bi’bak that explores the impact of labor migration on the notion of motherhood and family from the perspectives of women migrant workers and the children left behind. The installation takes the experiences of transnational families from both past and present as a point of departure, and brings narratives together with those objects that play a central role within the families.

Labor migration is worldwide creating new models of the transnational family, which despite geographical distances strives to maintain contact between the separated family members. In the time of the recruitment agreements in the 1960s, many parents were forced to leave their children behind since working hours were too demanding to make childcare on the side possible. Today it is predominantly migrant workers from Eastern Europe, who have to leave their families to earn a living in wealthier countries. Turkey, as a former country of emigration, has in turn become a destination for many workers, especially in the care sector, from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or the Central Asian region.

But, how is the relationship between parents and children to be redefined whenever gifts and material support take the place of shared experience? When physical closeness has to take second place to communication programs like Skype and WhatsApp? How does this changing family landscape impact children and their parents? BITTER THINGS retraces positions on this topic from the 1960s right up to present day perspectives.

Besides the exhibitions a side program with films, lectures and discussions has been curated by bi’bak. Moreover a publication with academic and literary contributions, interviews, songs and photos examining the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives has been released. Order your copy here. A booklet with selected texts in German and photographs of the exhibition can be downloaded here.

Concept and Artistic Direction: Malve Lippmann, Can Sungu
Exhibition Design: Malve Lippmann
Editing, Research: Maike Suhr
Project Assistants: Zeynep Dişbudak, Esra Akkaya
Communication Coordinator: Selim Özadar
Graphic Design: Jan Grygoriew

In Cooperation with Archive Berlin, Depo Istanbul and DOMiD – Museum und Dokumentationszentrum für die Migration in Deutschland, Köln.

Funded by the Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa and the Goethe Institut Istanbul. The sideprogram is funded by Berliner Landeszentrale politische Bildung.

Can Sungu studied film and visual communication design in Istanbul and at the Institute for Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts. He has given workshops and seminars in the field of film and published texts on film and migration. As an artist, he participated in numerous exhibitions, including at MMSU Rijeka, Künstlerhaus Vienna and REDCAT Los Angeles. He is co-founder and artistic director of bi‘bak.

Malve Lippmann studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart and at the Institute for Art in Context (UdK) in Berlin. As a freelance stage designer and artist, she has been internationally responsible for the design of numerous performances, opera- and theatre productions. Since 2010, Malve Lippmann has been working as a curator and cultural manager, leading artistic workshops and seminars and is active in various cultural- and community projects. She is co-founder and artistic director of bi'bak and SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA.

To the events


Beyond the War

Syrian Society and Politics before and after 2011

By Amer Katbeh


Director Teodora Ana Mihai Romania, Belgium 2014

88 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Janka Vogel


Georgiana will soon turn 15 and is taking care of her six younger siblings. The seven children are living together in Romania while their mother works in Italy. The oldest sister cooks, cleans and besides tries to find time for studying. In August the mother shall return.

Janka Vogel, born in 1988, is a social worker and a researcher in Romanian studies. She writes and researches on topics such as South-eastern Europe, Romanian migration and diaspora, as well as European and socio-political issues. She is currently working as a social worker with Romanian migrants in Berlin.

Director Renārs Vimba Latvia 2016

105 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Renārs Vimba


Nobody shall know about the death of their grandmother. In order to escape the state’s care, the 17-year-old Raya and her little brother bury the woman they grew up with in the garden of the local apple orchard. Raya alone organizes the daily survival for herself and her brother and puts all hope in the mother who emigrated to England.

Renārs Vimba enrolled in the Latvian Academy of Culture in 2008, where he studied cinematography; later he went to study under Boris Frumin at the Baltic Film and Media School in Tallinn; in 2011, he received an MA in Film Direction from the Academy of Culture. His film Mellow Mud has received the Latvian National Film Award Lielais Kristaps for Best Fiction Film. Vimba is currently working on his second feature, Sanctus.


Turkish migrant workers expressed their troubles through music. Some took their saz and sang about their experiences, some wrote letters to their loved ones, some of them developed political visions for the future. This event is about the reflections of migrant workers, in and outside of Turkey, in the 1950s and early 60s.

* Turkish for “foreign land.” Gurbet not only designates a geographical location but also implies the emotional distance from home. Stemming from the Arabic garb, it means “west” as well as “sunset.” The verb garaba also has its root in the same word, meaning “to be removed; to be an alien.”

OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Hilal Alkan Zeybek


Loin du 16ème (Far from the 16th)
Daniela Thomas, France, 2006, 5 min.
Calea Dunării (The Course of the Danube)
Sabin Dorohoi, Romania, 2013, 13 min.
媽媽離家上班去 (Homecoming)
Kwok Zune, Hong Kong, 2009, 30 min.
Hasta Bakıcı (Abigail) 
Soner Sert, Turkey, 2017, 17 min.
Kot Farkı (Ground Level)
Ayris Alptekin,Turkey, 2016, 11 min.

The short film program focuses on the living and working conditions of immigrant workers in very different countries, discussing the difficult circumstances of women who seek to gain a future for their children left behind. Loin du 16ème / Far from the 16th shows a Spanish immigrant in Paris who gives her own baby to a daycare early in the morning to look after the baby of a rich family in her job. A ten-year-old boy follows the Calea Dunării / The Course of the Danube from Romania to Vienna to find his parents. The nanny Charlie, after years of work in Hong Kong, is preparing for the long-awaited Homecoming to her son, but suddenly unexpected problems arise. Hasta Bakıcı / Abigail and Kot Farkı / Ground Level address the everyday work of care-givers in Istanbul.

Hilal Alkan Zeybek received her MA in Sociology from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and her PhD in Political Science from the Open University, UK. Since 2016 she is living in Berlin and working on her project titled The Dyad of Care and Discipline: Aiding Syrian Migrants in Turkey and Germany at the Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, while teaching at Alice Salomon Hochschule. Alongside migration and welfare provision, her research interests include gendered spatial formations, women’s experiences of war, and care ethics.

Director Athanasios Karanikolas Greece 2014

103 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Athanasios Karanikolas


Nadja has worked for many years as a housekeeper for a wealthy family of the Greek upper class. With her work she finances the education and the social advancement of her own daughter. She is allowed to feel like a part of the family. When Nadja is diagnosed with a serious illness and the employer is facing financial difficulties in the wake of the economic crisis, the situation begins to collapse.

Athanasios Karanikolas studied photography at the New School for Social Research and at Parsons School of Design in New York. He then studied video and media art at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, as well as film direction at the University of Film and Television “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam. In 2007, he made his first feature-length film Elli Makra, 42277 Wuppertal. Alongside his work as a filmmaker, Karanikolas also teaches at various universities as well as directing for the theatre.

The Voice of Torn Families


Workers who had to leave behind their families in Turkey to find employment in Germany met each other in songs. This is the story of the generations who have spent their lives in the in-between; those living between foreign lands and home, and the families live apart. 

* Turkish for “foreign land.” Gurbet not only designates a geographical location but also implies the emotional distance from home. Stemming from the Arabic garb, it means “west” as well as “sunset.” The verb garaba also has its root in the same word, meaning “to be removed; to be an alien.”

Director Baby Ruth Villarama Hong Kong, Philippines 2016

95 min., OV with English subs


Without the Filipino domestic workers the daily lives of many families in Hong Kong would break down. But the living conditions of these women are precarious: working all around the clock, bad treatment and the arbitrariness of employers are commonplace. On the free Sundays, the women organize beauty contests. The meetings are not just fun, they are networking. Sunday Beauty Queen shows surprising strategies of self-empowerment in the face of the impositions of modern slavery.