Series
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By Florian Wüst

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City, Country, Stranger

"The stories of migration are stories in motion and stories about motion. However, the stories that have not been told in Germany for so long are those of arrival, of existence. The very existence that is understood as the arrival in 'normality'." (1)

The normality of factory work. The normality of the right to a social housing. The normality of bilingualism. The normality of a post-migrant society? Last but not least, Turkish-German cinema since the 1980s has created a media visibility of migration, leaving behind the motif of mute guest workers unable to communicate and integrate, and instead migrants as self-confident subjects (2). Migration, shelter and mobility are a productive challenge to the traditional view of culture as a closed system. However, the transnationality of social, economic and political relations in Europe today increasingly faces the right-wing populist-driven retreat towards the nation, the firm affiliations and exclusions of the alleged other.

Against this background, the six-part film series City, Country, Stranger shows a variety of movements, about leaving and staying, freedom and boundaries, law and violence. The selection of historical and contemporary feature, documentary and short films focuses not only on the location of the city and its changing working and living conditions, but also on the migration movements from West to East and East to West in the following years of reunification and the history and present of structural racism in Germany.

(1) Nanna Heidenreich, V/Erkennungsdienste, das Kino und die Perspektive der Migration, Bielefeld 2015, p. 154.
(2) Vgl. Deniz Göktürk, Migration und Kino. Subnationale Mitleidskultur und transnationale Rollenspiele?, in: springerin, Heft 2/2001, p. 42-47.

With the kind support of the Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit of the state of Berlin (LEZ).

Florian Wüst is an independent film curator, artist, and publisher based in Berlin. He co-founded the Berlin Journals—On the History and Present State of the City. From 2016-2020 he worked as a film and video curator of transmediale.

To the events

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Beyond the War

Syrian Society and Politics before and after 2011

By Amer Katbeh

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BITTER THINGS

Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families

Curated by Malve Lippmann and Can Sungu

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Skin

#95

Director Afraa Batous Syria, Lebanon 2015

82 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Lisa Jöris and Afraa Batous

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KuirFest Berlin 2019

Queer Feminist Rebels

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

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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

Director Aylin Kuryel and Fırat Yücel Turkey 2019

57 min, OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Aylin Kuryel and Fırat Yücel

Films

Director Sema Poyraz and Sofoklis Adamidis BRD FRG (West Germany)

93 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Sema Poyraz

GÖLGE

Gölge is Sema Poyraz‘s final film at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin (dffb) and was developed in collaboration with her fellow Greek student Sofoklis Adamidis. The  film is about Gölge, who lives with her younger sister and her parents from Turkey in a small two-room apartment in Berlin-Kreuzberg. She tries to find a place for herself between the migrant and the German contexts surrounding her. Her dream is to become an actress. When her mother wants to give her more liberties, the father begins to suppress Gölge’s desires and dreams even more strongly. The idea for the screenplay came to Poyraz after watching a documentary about Turkish girls and women in Berlin, and was also influenced by her own experiences as a Turk in Germany. Gölge was co-produced by Sender Freies Berlin (SFB); the first broadcast was in August 1980 under the TV title Future of Love.

Sema Poyraz, born in 1950 in Turkey, is an actress, film director and screenwriter. Poyraz studied in 1973 at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin. Her graduation film Gölge (1980) can be described as the early beginning of a so-called German-Turkish cinema.

Director Hans-Georg Ullrich and Detlef Gumm Germany 1994

86 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Hans-Georg Ullrich and Detlef Gumm

THE FOREIGN

In the historical situation of the post-reunification period in East Germany, Das Fremde reflects different the experiences of migration, return and foreignness in one’s own country.

Mr. Mujemba, with a doctrate in economics from Zaire, visits schools in Brandenburg in order to reduce children’s prejudices. The Wentzel brothers settle down in Teutschenthal near Halle an der Saale and restore their former family property. A real estate agent from Sauerland wants to buy land to build holiday apartments for West German investors. Mr. von Maltzan, chemist from Berlin, tries to make a new agricultural enterprise from the run-down LPG (former East German agricultural association) on the land of his ancestors. At the German-Polish border, Federal Border Guard officers move into provisional blockhouse settlements. The young Count Solms prepares for the migration of his father from Namibia to the Baruther castle. In a Greifswald adult school, a Turkish teacher from Hamburg trains unemployed engineers. Young people in the peripheral area of the former border between East and West Germany complain about the conditions, but can not imagine leaving from home. Repeatedly appearing throughout the film are the reflections of physician Gabriela Willbold, a daughter of a black father and a white mother. Born in Cottbus in 1961,  she recalls her life with a different skin color in the GDR and in reunited Germany.

Hans-Georg Ullrich, (born in 1942 in Magdeburg) completed a college education as a photographer. He shot a series of award-winning industrial films. Ullrich has been working with Detlef Gumm since the 1970s. Their first joint success in 1973 was the documentary series Everyday Life - Pictures of the Road.

Detlef Gumm (born in 1947 in Ludwigshafen) came to Berlin after an internship in the recording studio of BASF. He studied journalism, drama and art history during the student movement. In 1975 he founded together with Hans-Georg Ullrich the production company kangaroo film.

Director Gisela Tuchtenhagen Germany 1994

86 min., OV

Followed by a talk with Gisela Tuchtenhagen

EKMEK PARASI – MONEY FOR DAILY BREAD

The vegetables come from the garden behind the house, the fish from the tin and the money for the daily bread comes from the factory. The women came here for this money. Women from Turkey, women from the North German Mecklenburg – together, they are working on the assembly line of the Hawesta fish factory in Lübeck. Their hands coloured brown and persistently smelling from the fish, their arms and backs aching. If this work was conducted by men, it would have been automated already but women’s labor is cheap and the women don’t complain, despite all problems. They have learned to work. The work is their pride.

"Serap Berrakkarasu has managed to build a bond of trust, because she approaches women with feeling and great interest - and because she speaks their language. Ekmek Parası - Money for the Bread is a film in German and Turkish. From this, too, it derives its charm and its authenticity. Typical women's work has always been communicative. It is the merit of Serap Berakkarasu and Gisela Tuchtenhagen to have been part of this communication and to have preserved it in their directness and spontaneity for the film. In the end, the women filmmakers say goodbye to the women in the fish factory like colleagues: have a nice weekend!" (Linde Fröhlich)

Gisela Tuchtenhagen was born in 1943 in Koszalin (Poland). She is the fifth child of a family that fled to Schleswig-Holstein in 1944. At the age of 15, Tuchtenhagen moved to Paris and lived there until 1963. After an apprenticeship as a photographer she studied at DFFB in Berlin and worked as a camerawoman and film editor.

OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Mareike Bernien, Alex Gerbaulet and Ezra Gerhardt-Schubert

SHORT FILMS – CITY, COUNTRY, STRANGER

Das Zimmer (The Room), Johannes Beringer, BRD 1966, 15′
Inventur – Metzstrasse 11 (Stocktaking – Metzstrasse 11), Želimir Žilnik, BRD 1975, 9′
Ich deutsche Behörde (Me, German Department), Ezra Gerhardt & Alf Böhmert, BRD 1981, 24′
Nyx, Claire Hooper, UK/DE 2010, 22′
Tiefenschärfe / Depth of Field, Alex Gerbaulet & Mareike Bernien, DE 2016/17, 15′

With a focus on Berlin, the short film programme within the series City, Country, Stranger takes a look at urban space and living rooms, offices, staircases and subway stations. With documentary, artistic and essayistic approaches, the films present migrant experiences of city and daily life, violence and memory, and reflect them in their political context. A journey through five decades of an aesthetics of migration, which is increasingly supported by experimental cinematographic works, “which use film as both a means of representation and a method of exploration” (1).

(1) Jana König, Elisabeth Steffen, Conflicted Copy ein Streifzug durch das Filmprojekt Mauern 2.0. Migrantische und antirassistische Perspektiven auf den Mauerfall. Gestern und heute, in: Frauen und Film, Heft 67: Migration, 2016, S. 25.

Das Zimmer (The Room), Johannes Beringer, BRD 1966, 15′
German original

In his film Das Zimmer (The Room) the Swiss dffb-student Johannes Beringer deals with his first experiences as a foreigner in West-Berlin, experimenting with image, sound and montage. The documentary shots of houses, streets, transport and people capture the contrast between progress and stagnation and reveal the unequal social realities of the city. Again and again the film returns to Beringer’s neighbor, a man from Lebanon, who discusses with a friend an article about the president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and unsuccessfully tries to find a flat.

Inventur – Metzstrasse 11 (Stocktaking – Metzstrasse 11), Želimir Žilnik, BRD 1975, 9′
German-Turkish original with English subtitles.

In the 1970s the Serbian filmmaker Želimir Žilnik lived in West Germany. At that time he made the film Inventur – Metzstrasse 11: a short film about the inhabitants of an old tenement house in Munich-Haidhausen. Standing in the staircase of the building the inhabitants – mainly guest workers – present themselves, their living conditions and future plans. They decide for themselves what and how much to tell the camera. In its formal simplicity, the film discusses a common problem from that period: apartments were intentionally overcrowded with guest workers’ families and then neglected in order to exploit them later through demolition or by selling them at a profit.

Ich deutsche Behörde (Me, German Department), Ezra Gerhardt & Alf Böhmert, BRD 1981, 24′
German original

Nearly without comment, the short film Ich deutsche Behörde shows the work of a West-Berlin foreigners’ authority in the early 1980s. First, the focus is set on “documenting the documentary” (Nicole Wolf): asylum seekers are allocated to floors and rooms, fingerprints are taken, face profiles are photographed with a measuring stick, surveys are conducted with the help of interpreters. Later, the film focuses on concrete actions in the process of deportation of persons without residence permits. From passport control to detention, until deportation from Tegel Airport, the hidden violence in the bureaucratic structures becomes visible in a brutal way.

Nyx, Claire Hooper, UK/DE 2010, 22′
English-German original

In Greek mythology, Gaia, the goddess of Earth, provides us with the topos of the city, while Nyx, the goddess of night, gives us inner freedom. The descendants of Nyx are a mighty group, embodying human characteristics such as anger, strife and friendship. With Thanatos, the god of calm death, his twin brother, Hypnos, and Hypnos’ wife, Pasithea, the goddess of hallucinations, a young man from Berlin-Kreuzberg begins an odyssey with the U7 subway line – in the direction of Spandau. The U7, whose stations were designed by the building inspector, Rainer G. Rümmler, follows the river Spree which, in the film Nyxtransforms into Lethe, the river of forgetting. The plot of the film is based on anecdotes from Kurdish friends, who are sharing a similar, but unwritten, experience of Berlin’s more recent history.

Tiefenschärfe / Depth of Field, Alex Gerbaulet & Mareike Bernien, DE 2016/17, 15′
German original with English subtitles

Nuremberg 2016. 17 years ago a bomb exploded in a bar in this city. 16, 15, 11 years ago a flower seller, a tailor, and a snack shop owner were murdered. How can a crime scene be filmed so that it can be seen as just a place? A place from which people can look at the city. A place that looks. A place that shakes and defends itself, against the film crew and the memory of the incident. Inspired by the thoughts and aesthetics of the writer, artist and filmmaker, Peter Weiss, Tiefenschärfe / Depth of Field investigates places in Nuremberg, where the so-called Nationalsozialistische Untergrund (NSU) committed murders and bomb attacks.

Funded by Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit des Landes Berlin (LEZ)

Mareike Bernien lives in Berlin and works as an artist between performative film, sound and text. Using a media-archaeological approach, her work questions the ideological certainties of representation, its material-technological prerequisites and historical continuities.

Alex Gerbaulet, born in 1977, lives and works as an artist, filmmaker and curator in Berlin. She studied philosophy, media sciences and liberal arts in Braunschweig and Vienna. She received numerous scholarships, her work has been exhibited internationally and her films have been screened at various festivals in Germany and abroad. She also works as a lecturer and as an independent curator for art institutions and festivals. Since 2014 she works as a writer and producer at pong film Berlin.

Ezra Gerhardt-Schubert is film director, known for the film Ich, deutsche Behörde, which he directed together with Alf Böhmert in 1981.

Director Hussi Kutlucan Germany 1998

95 min., OV

Followed by a talk with Hussi Kutlucan

ICH CHEF, DU TURNSCHUH

The feature film Ich Chef, du Turnschuh (Me Boss, you Sneaker) by Hussi Kutlucan tells the story of an Armenian asylum seeker, Dudie. Played by the director himself, the character Dudie is stuck with his girlfriend Nani on a container ship in Hamburg which functions as an accommodation center for refugees from all over the world. After Nani enters a marriage of convenience with a German, Dudie escapes to Berlin with false documents where he starts working on the construction site at the Reichstag building for little money.

Harassment from his superiors and colleagues, as well as exploitation by his employer, pushes Dudie more and more to seek out a marriage with a German woman. Nina, whom he meets at a dosshouse, is willing to marry him – but she wants 15,000 German Mark in return, which he cannot possibly afford. When he doesn’t get his wage, Dudie organizes a strike. Through this he gains new friends at the construction site, but is forced to flee from the police. In the meantime, Nina falls in love with Dudie, who devotedly cares for her son, Leo. This could be a happy ending – if Nina was not stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. Without money and a home, Dudie and Leo, who refuses to go to an orphanage, are strolling through the city, coming across one tragicomic situation after another.

Kutlucan’s humorous way of dealing with the topic of asylum seems more relevant than ever before. Sometimes the film makes its audience laugh, sometimes cry, sometimes it appears serious and dramatic, sometimes silly and sentimental. Ich Chef, du Turnschuh manages to reveal the inhumanity and absurdity of the refugee existence in the alleged constitutional state through lightness and humor.

Hussein "Hussi" Kutlucan (born 1962 in Kemah, Turkey) is a German author filmmaker, actor and former punk rocker. He was awarded the Adolf Grimme Prize 2000 in Gold for Ich Chef, Du Turnschuh (Me Boss, You Sneakers).

Director Angelika Levi Germany 2015

55 min., OV with English subs

Followed by a talk with Angelika Levi and Sandy Kaltenborn

RENT EATS THE SOUL

On the night of May 26th, 2012 some of the inhabitants of the social flats at Kottbusser Tor, mainly neighbours of Turkish origin, built a protest house made of Euro-pallets. They called the construction “Gecekondu”, which means “built over night” in Turkish. Through the squatting of a public square in the middle of Kreuzberg, the renter initiative Kotti & Co started a protest still visible today and have thus managed to put the issue of social house building and the expulsion of people with low income on the political agenda. People with very different biographies and political opinions started talking with one another and sharing their stories. Prejudices were replaced by a positive uncertainty, neighbours became friends.

Miete essen Seele auf is documenting two years of neighbourly self-organization and protest. The initiative demands limitations for the rent and the return of social flats into the property of the state. The film, made by Angelika Levi and Christoph Dreher, connects the question of urban living with the history of migration and highlights the link between racism and urban expulsion.

Angelika Levi is a filmmaker and video artist. She studied at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb). In 2015, her documentary Miete essen Seele auf was initially shown in the exhibition Wohnungsfrage at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

Sandy Kaltenborn and his neighbors at Kottbusser Tor founded the tenant community Kotti & Co in 2011. He is involved in the fight for social housing in Berlin. Besides, he is a communication designer and has been running the office image-shift.net for 13 years. He grew up in the Middle East, lived in San Francisco before the dot-com gentrification wave and has been living in Berlin-Kreuzberg for 23 years.