Historically, the main routes of the Silk Road connected China with Central and West Asia, up to North Africa. These cross-borders exchanges went beyond the economic transfer of goods, transporting and thus influencing the cultures along with it too.
The film series How Can We See (each other)? searches beyond eurocentrism for (pop)cultural, social and political connections of an “East-East referencing” and takes a look at transcultural relations among these regions. By pairing filmmakers from different areas, we hope to create a form of transnational dialogue between artists and filmmakers. From Hong Kong to Cairo, Urumchi to Kobanê, and Beijing to a small village in Morocco, the films performatively cross gender boundaries and national affiliations. Through "cultural drag", reenactments and other transgressive strategies, the films open up a space in which cultural identity can be conceptualised in new ways, beyond questions of potential differences and commonalities. The programme contributes to an understanding of a political resistance that equally reflects the power of cultural, national, ethnic and gender categories and imagines their dissolution.
Funded by Hauptstadt Kulturfonds
Wir für Hongkong
Kurdish Film Festival Berlin
Times Art Center
Videoart at Midnight
Popo Fan, born 1985, is a Berlin-based Chinese diaspora filmmaker, curator and writer. His films include queer activism documentaries and scripted, sex-positive shorts. For more than a decade, he has organized the Beijing Queer Film Festival and founded the Queer University Video Training Camp in China. In 2019 he curated film series “More Than A Midnight Rainbow” about Chinese-made and Chinese-speaking queer films at bi’bak.
谈身体 Talk About Body
Tao Hui, China 2013, 4 Min.
德黑兰的黄昏 The Dusk of Tehran
Tao Hui, China 2014, 4 Min.
演技教程 The Acting Tutorial
Tao Hui, China 2015, 19 Min.
我们共同的形象 Joint Images
Tao Hui, China 2016, 15 Min.
Wa Waila (Oh Torment)
Monira Al Qadiri, Kuwait 2008, 10 Min.
Rumors of Affluence
Monira Al Qadiri, Kuwait 2012, 4 Min.
Abu Athiyya (Father of Pain)
Monira Al Qadiri, Kuwait 2013, 6 Min.
Monira Al Qadiri, Kuwait 2014, 8 Min.
In the video work Talk About Body, Tao sits in a bedroom, wearing a hijab, and as the title suggests, talks about his body. The Dusk of Tehran is a Persian actress' reenactment of the speech that the Hong Kong pop star Anita Mui gave at her final concert. The Acting Tutorial brings together amateur actors for a rehearsal of extreme situations. Joint Images shows a live synchronization of ten randomly selected TV clips, posing questions about the relationship between mass media and acting. Wa Waila (Oh Torment) is a surreal music video based on an old Kuwaiti folk song, where the artist plays the part of the male main singer. Rumors of Affluence addresses the long history of corruption and wealth in Kuwait by tracing the rumors about the stock market crash in the early 1980s up to more recent scandals. Abu Athiyya is a music video based on a lamentation song performed by the southern Iraqi singer Yas Khodhor. Here, Al Qadiri plays the role of the singer, as well as performing a knife-dancing ritual. SOAP juxtaposes the TV soap operas with the migrant workers who are cleaning the luxurious villas the main characters are living in.
Monira Al Qadiri is a Berlin based Kuwaiti artist born in Senegal. She received a PhD in inter-media art from Tokyo University of the Arts, where she researched the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East in poetry, music, art and religious practices. Her work explores gender identities, petro-cultures and their possible futures, and the legacies of corruption.
九月二十八日·晴 A Sunny Day
Liang Ying, Fiction, Netherlands/Hong Kong 2016, 25 Min.
妈妈的口供 I Have Nothing To Say
Liang Ying, Hong Kong/Taiwan 2017, 25 Min.
Sholeh Zahraei/Kamil Saldun, Cyprus/Iran 2012, 5 Min.
Letters To Cyprus
Sholeh Zahraei/Kamil Saldun, Cyprus 2014, 22 Min.
Sholeh Zahraei/Kamil Saldun, Cyprus/Iran 2014, 3 Min.
The Olive Tree At The Border
Sholeh Zahraei/Kamil Saldun, Cyprus 2014, 6 Min.
This short film programme focuses on exile, separation and family dispersed over borders. In A Sunny Day a young woman visits her father in his Hong Kong flat. She has not seen him for a while and tries to have lunch with him before the Umbrella Movement reaches a critical juncture. In I Have Nothing To Say,a Chinese mother meets with her exiled daughter from Hong Kong. Drawing from his personal experience living in exile, the director Liang Ying tells their moving story, subtly depicting the political dilemma of Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Granny's Garden shows a young man in his final hour, having flashbacks to his granny's garden where there was life, love, nature and hope. Letters To Cyprus isbased on the pen-friendship that the mother of one of the directors maintained during the war in 1974.After 42 years of waiting for peace, a Cypriot woman returns back to the home that she was previously forced to leave. Celluloid Me is a poetic film about abandoning a body, transforming into other bodies and the desire to become one with water, nature and celluloid. The Olive Tree At The Border is areflection on Cyprus, nature, division, and a man who goes beyond borders.
Sholeh Zahraei was born in Tehran, grew up in Berlin, and studied in Amsterdam and Cyprus. Sholeh has worked with directors like Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Bahram Beyzaie, and Derviş Zaim. In 2016, she participated in Berlinale Talents as a writer and director. Since 2011, she has made several experimental, fiction, and documentary shorts, music videos and TV ads with Kamil Saldun.
Kamil Saldun was born in Famagusta, Cyprus. He graduated at Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta. Since 2013 Kamil has been working as a film editor. Sholeh and Kamil were selected to participate in a filmmaking workshop mentored by Abbas Kiarostami and are part of the Imago Mundi Luciano Benetton Collection.
Aykan Safoğlu, Germany/Turkey, 2013, 24 Min.
Aykan Safoğlu, Germany, 2019, 12 Min.
Ming Wong, Germany, 2008, 27 Min.
Ming Wong, Germany/Turkey, 2011, 33 Min.
Aykan Safoğlu takes his friendship with Nihad Nino Pušija as the point of departure for Touching Feeling. Pušija has been recording the world around him for years with his camera: queer life in Kreuzberg, the life of the Romani in the former Yugoslavia and in German refugee shelters; everyday occurrences, but also scenes of flight and migration. Pušija’s photographs form the basis for the film; mark by mark, Safoğlu uncovers them on the black screen, prompting his reflection on his role as an observer, the defiant beauty of everyday life, and the terrible rupture that war and destruction left in their trail in the 1990s across the Balkans. Off-White Tulips is a fictional dialogue with James Baldwin. Documenting the writer’s visits to Istanbul, it is a subtle critique of racism, transnational discourse, and LGBTIQ politics. Angst Essen is a reconstruction of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 film Angst essen Seele auf. Ming Wong plays all the roles himself, constantly changing between different genders, nationalities and ages. By speaking the dialogues in German, a language unfamiliar to him, he reflects on the distancing effect of Fassbinder’s language stereotypes, marking all protagonists as the “Other”. Biji Diva! is a homage to the transsexual Turkish pop singer Bülent Ersoy. Together with his mother May Wong, Ming Wong performed a live concert in 2011, taking on the role of the well-known pop diva.
Ming Wong explores the gray space of current debates, such as the construction of gender, language and identity. Drawing inspiration from feature films and pop culture, Wong recontextualizes well-known quotes and tropes. He blends eastern and western mythological ideals, often reflecting his own experiences of having grown up in Singapore, studying in London and now living in Berlin.
Aykan Safoğlu received his MFA in Photography from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, NY. Between 2014-2018, Safoğlu was an artist-in-residence at institutions such as Akademie Schloss Solitude, Ashkal Alwan, and Rijkakademie van beeldende kunsten. Recipient of the Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen at the 59th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2013), Safoğlu is currently a PhD-Candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
玲玲的花园 Lingling's Garden
Ryuji Otsuka/Huang Ji, China 2009, 58 Min.
Halima Ouardiri, Canada/Morocco 2010, 16 Min.
Halima Ouardiri, Canada 2020, 18 Min.
Lingling's Garden is the story of a pupil named Lingling who is always late. One summer, her class plans to go mountain climbing. But Lingling can only go if she can overcome her constant lateness. One night, she sees an advertisement about a magic pillow. But it’s too expensive. Her mother doesn’t let her buy it, so she finally decides to make her own magic pillow. Mokhtar tells the story of a young boy in a remote Moroccan village. One day he adopts a fallen owl, even though owls are considered a bad omen. Clebs shows the routine of a stray dog shelter in Morocco. Time seems to stand still for the large number of animals waiting to be adopted. The short film creates socio-political parallels under the burning North African sun.
The Silent Wall
Isaac Chong Wai, Hong Kong/Bosnia and Herzegovina/Germany 2014, 11 Min.
Rehearsal of the Futures: Police Training Exercises
Isaac Chong Wai, Hong Kong 2018, 18 Min.
Balaghany Ayyoha Al Malek Al Sa'eed
Mohammad Shawky Hassan, Egypt/Germany/USA 2011, 18 Min.
And on a Different Note
Mohammad Shawky Hassan, Egypt/USA 2015, 23 Min.
The performance video The Silent Wall looks at the bullet holes from the war in Sarajevo and asks how to deal with memorials of a brutal history. In Rehearsal of the Futures dancers slow down the gestures of military riot police. The effect is beautiful, strange, but familiar at the same time. Filmed a year before, it anticipates the images from the Hong Kong protests. Balaghany Ayyoha Al Malek Al Sa'eed is a meditation on the complex relationship of two brothers, exploring notions of brotherhood, mentorship, masculinity and sexuality. And on a Different Note is an attempt to carve out a personal space amid an inescapable sonic shield created primarily by prime-time political talk shows with their indistinguishable, absurd, and at times undecipherable noises.
Mohammad Shawky Hassan is a filmmaker and video artist living between Cairo and Berlin. His video And on a Different Note (2015) premiered at the Berlinale Forum Expanded and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as part of its permanent collection. He is currently working on his feature-length audiovisual essay Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day.
Isaac Chong Wai graduated from Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University with a BA in Visual Arts and Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar, Germany, with a MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies. He engages themes of collectivism and individualism, geopolitics, migration, historical trauma, identity politics and public sphere. These themes are explored through range of media, including performance, installation, painting, video, photography and multimedia. He works and lives in Berlin and Hong Kong.
Qetiq – Rock 'n Urumchi
Mukaddas Mijit, Germany 2013, 56 Min.
Leyla Toprak, Turkey 2015, 16 Min.
Leyla Toprak, Turkey 2016, 16 Min.
Qetiq – Rock 'n Urumchi takes Ürümchi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, as a departure point. The city is home to the musician Perhat, who like many other musicians from the region never thought about leaving. A film about music caught up in the tension between tradition and modernity. Red Handkerchief documents the story of five Kurds who were sentenced to prison for 14-25 years and how they managed to survive through the Kurdish folk dance Govend, which gave them “a feeling of unboundedness in a bounded place”. Distant observes the guerilla women’s rebellion in Kobanê against dominant social descriptions which had ignored women for years.
Mukaddas Mijit is an ethnomusicologist, filmmaker, dancer, and music manager born in Ürümchi. She was awarded her PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Paris Nanterre in 2015, researching the “Staging of Uyghur Music and Dance”. Besides publishing articles in edited volumes and peer reviewed journals including Cahier d'ethnomusicologie, she has made documentaries on Uyghur culture.
Leyla Toprak was born in 1980 in Istanbul. Until 2013 she took part in the modern dance collective Mesopotamia Dance in Istanbul. In 2014, she graduated from the Performing Arts Department, and until 2017 she studied Cinema at Istanbul Bilgi University. She wrote, choreographed and directed several performances and video works.