From September 2020 on bi’bak will embark on a cinema experiment at Haus der Statistik.
SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA explores cinema as a space for social discourse, a place for exchange and solidarity. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA brings together diverse social communities, links geographically distant and nearby places, the past, present and future, and decentres an eurocentric view through transnational, (post-) migrant and postcolonial perspectives. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is a transtopia, a place where “cross-border ties and connections converge, are reinterpreted and condense into everyday contexts” (Erol Yıldız). As part of the pioneering urban policy Initiative Haus der Statistik, the cinema experiment bridges the gap between everyday urban practices and film to create an alternative art form that connects different social perspectives.
SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is funded by Haupstadtkulturfonds, Conrad Stiftung and the Programm NEUSTART KULTUR
bi'bakino is a curated film program that focuses on transnational narratives, migration and mobility discourses in film and seeks to stimulate differentiated discussions and changes of perspective. The program highlights films from outside Europe that have often not been shown in Berlin before, as well as archive excavations and rediscoveries. Following the film screenings, moderated discussions take place with filmmakers and experts.
Past event series can be found in the archive.
As Louis Malle once put it, “A westerner with a camera is twice a westerner”. Afterall, cinema started its long journey in a colonial context, considering the Lumière Brothers visited countries of the Global South in order to film the “Other”. Consequently, the early ethnographical documentary works were often associated with an authoritative colonial gaze. At present, the documentary industry is still to a large extent based on well-funded films produced by western filmmakers framing the Global South as a site of misery, exploiting images in order to satisfy the demand of the West. In response, non-western filmmakers created their own images by reversing the colonizer's gaze, and some western filmmakers ended up questioning themselves rather than feeding into the expectations. Decolonizing the Screen shows a selection of perspectives which challenge the continued history of the colonial gaze and open up discussions on the legacy of ethnographic films as well as the politics of documentary production.
Necati Sönmez works as a film critic, journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is the initiator of Which Human Rights? Film Festival and one of the founders of Documentarist – Istanbul Documentary Days, which soon became the most important documentary festival in Turkey. He has served as jury member in over 30 festivals and curated documentary programmes as a guest curator. For 2021 he is a fellow at bi’bak.
Ateyyat El Abnoudy, Egypt 1975, 12 min., no dialogue
طبيب في الأرياف Tabib Fi-l-Aryaf
The Countryside Doctor
Khairy Beshara, Egypt 1975 , 22 min., OV with English subtitles
القاهرة منورة بأهلها Al-qahira menauwwara bi Ahlaha
Cairo Is Illuminated by Its People
Youssef Chahine, Egypt/France 1991, 23 min., OV with English subtitles
In Cairo is Illuminated by Its People Youssef Chahine tried to capture the soul of overcrowded Cairo, its people, and everyday life. When the film premiered in Cannes, he was accused of giving the West a false image of Egypt by showing Cairo’s poverty and the film was eventually banned. We show the documentary along with two internationally unknown little gems by Khairy Beshara and Ateyyat El Abnoudy. The three films reflect different views on everyday life in Egypt, one in Cairo, the other two in rural parts of the country.
In the summer of 1990, a dispute over a golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, sparked off a huge pushback by the indigenous community. The documentary filmmaker and First Nations activist Alanis Obomsawin chronicles the 78 days of the confrontation between the armed Mohawks, who were presented as criminals by mainstream politicians, and the security forces.
Seven Songs From the Tundra features seven multi-faceted stories on the life of the Nenets, a nomad community in northern Russia. Made through the joint effort of the community and written by native Anastasia Lapsui in the Nenet language, it provides a beautifully detailed picture of how the people in this region, plagued by extreme cold, harassment and the pressure to assimilate, struggled to live and survive during the Soviet times.
Kenzo Okuzaki, a veteran of the Imperial Army and survivor of the war in New Guinea, single-handedly challenges the postwar political establishment of Japan. Holding the Emperor responsible for the war crimes, Okuzaki protests in various ways such as driving around with anti-government slogans, distributing the Emperor's naked images, and attempting to kill the officer who ordered the execution of his fellow soldiers. Five years in the making, Kazuo Hara's documentary defies the colonial power from within.
What if a country gains victory against its colonizer but still keeps the population under a system of male dominance? According to the Vietnamese women interviewed in the film, that is what happened in post-war Vietnam. Accompanied by songs and testimonies about female identity, family relations, exile, violence and memory, Surname Viet Given Name Nam explores the role of women in Vietnam and the United States. Using a great amount of stock footage, Trinh T. Minh-ha also questions the role of the interview in documentary filmmaking.
Our Voice of Earth, Memory and Future documents the first years of the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC) and its struggle to reclaim ancestral territories, reflecting on the centuries-long oppression of farmers and indigenous peoples in Colombia. Fusing straightforward documentation and fantastical visualization, the film mingles myth, poetry, and popular memory while capturing a defining moment in the modern indigenous rights movement.
The Vampires of Poverty
Carlos Mayolo/Luis Ospina, Colombia 1977, 28 min., OV with English subtitles
A manifesto-like mockumentary on “misery porn” produced and consumed by the western world. The influential Colombian filmmaker Luis Ospina and his childhood friend Carlos Mayolo act as a film crew working for German TV who chase after poor people, street kids, and hookers in the streets of Cali. A quirky film full of black humour and satire addressing the exploitation of misery in the Global South by the western audiovisual industry.
Denis Villeneuve, Canada 1994, 31 min. OV with English subtitles
In his directorial debut short Denis Villeneuve traveled to Jamaica planning to film a travelogue. Instead, he made an experimental documentary about his position as a filmmaker, the cultural shock he experienced, and the people he met. The story about a fictional French-Canadian photojournalist oscillates between psychodrama and documentary: “This human hell is a paradise for photography,” he says at one point.
René Vautier, France 1950, 17 min., OV with English subtitles
As a 21-year-old student, René Vautier was commissioned to make a film about the daily lives of villagers and the benefits of French colonialism in West Africa. Instead he witnessed horrible living conditions and violent acts committed by the army in the name of his home country. He ended up making a militant film exposing the brutalities of the French military. Considered as the first French anti-colonial film, Afrique 50 was banned for over 40 years with the director spending several months in jail.
Afrique sur Seine
Paulin Soumanou Vieyra/ Mamadou Sarr, France 1955, 22 min., OV with English subtitles
In 1934 the French government passed the Laval Decree in order to prevent African filmmakers from filming in French African colonies. Afrique sur Seine is a satirical attempt to skirt around this censorship that was only overturned in 1960. Filmed in the streets of Paris, the film observes French society the same way French filmmakers portrayed the Africans in their ethnographic films.
You Hide Me
Nii Kwate Owoo, Ghana 1970, 16 min., OV with English subtitles
Ghanaian filmmaker Kwate Nii Owoo gained access to the British Museum's underground vaults and filmed the valuable African artefacts hidden in the basement. One day of filming was enough to expose the theft and concealment of ancient and rare African art stashed away in plastic bags and wooden boxes. “We came across an enormous collection... thousands of important works of art that have never been exhibited.”