Strangers

Four strangers - same room, same cloth­ing, same city. Four people who would rarely meet in real life, enter into dia­logue. Love, money, faith and some kind of dif­fer­ence. Four times Kolkata, India. An exper­i­men­tal doc­u­men­tary about iden­ti­ty and society.

 

Emails to My Little Sister

I can’t be cer­tain what will happen with this dig­ni­ty in you when you decide to come, too.” In his auto-ethno­graph­ic film EMAILS TO MY LITTLE SISTER, the Ethiopi­an direc­tor Solomon A. Meko­nen reflects on his expe­ri­ence of “becom­ing black” in Berlin. Con­cerned about his sister’s wish to fur­ther her edu­ca­tion in Ger­many, he describes the shift in the way he is seen through the white gaze.
The film com­bines his the­o­ret­i­cal approach with images of his sister’s life in Ethiopia. From a per­son­al as well as aca­d­e­m­ic point of view, the film­mak­er inves­ti­gates the effects colo­nial­ism has on their lives in both countries.

Demian

They deport­ed me on the 7th of Decem­ber. They just said: Mr. Fobas­so, you need to go home now.” While fight­ing to renew his res­i­dence status, Demian is unex­pect­ed­ly hand­cuffed and put on a plane back to Douala, Cameroon. Strand­ed in a place that is sup­posed to be his “home,” he dis­cov­ers that all of his family has either left or died. By sell­ing used wrist­watch­es, he tries to make a living and get a handle on his new life. Ger­many lies behind him and is only present in his voca­tion­al school cer­tifi­cates (best of his year), old pic­tures, and memories.
In Marc Sebas­t­ian Eils’ short doc­u­men­tary, Demian shares his story and raises ques­tions that are rel­e­vant for many people today, but are hardly talked about: What comes after depor­ta­tion? What hap­pens when your pass­port – and not your life – deter­mines where your home is sup­posed to be?

Violence is to charge 600 Euros - Public Land II

Head­lines about the con­se­quences of the eco­nom­ic and social crises and the cur­rent lack of sol­i­dar­i­ty seem to have lost their sell­ing. They grab little atten­tion in the public dis­course. The second part of Elena Friedrich’s Public Land series looks at the power dynam­ics of the public realm, which are locat­ed between infor­ma­tion and manip­u­la­tion, con­trol and rep­re­sen­ta­tion. The self-reflec­tive doc­u­men­tary blends audio-record­ings of dis­cus­sions from Athens and Madrid with a fic­tion­al nar­ra­tive of a man trans­port­ing boxes of oranges to the sea­side, always with the ques­tion in mind of how, in the “soci­ety of the spec­ta­cle,” alter­na­tive nar­ra­tives can be cre­at­ed and kept alive.

Violence is to charge 600 Euros - Public Land I

Wake up! is the recur­rent tag on walls in Athens, Istan­bul and Madrid. As a sign, it traces the polit­i­cal strug­gles between 2011 and 2015. The film is an essay­is­tic col­lage that maps respons­es to the polit­i­cal events that led, among other things, to rent rising to 600 Euros in urban spaces. Protest tags in cap­i­tal let­ters on major mon­u­ments are com­pared and con­trast­ed in regard to form and con­tent. The mon­tage of images of the urban space filled with let­ters and signs sprayed on build­ings blends with the narrator’s voice to create a reflec­tion on and an appeal for public land. Which kind of public sphere, what kind of images, lan­guage, and nar­ra­tions do we use and inhab­it to change the world around us?

Gilda Brasileiro - Against Oblivion

Gilda Brasileiro is an Afro-Brazil­ian woman who only recent­ly moved to a vil­lage in the Atlantic rain forest. She is all the more out­raged that no one seems inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of this place, where a secret slave route once passed through in the 19th cen­tu­ry. There is even an intact slave house still stand­ing, which is now used as a small museum. How­ev­er, the slaves are not men­tioned in the museum owner’s nar­ra­tive. Because vir­tu­al­ly no one wants to remem­ber this past, Gilda begins look­ing for evi­dence. In the São Paulo archives, she dis­cov­ers proof that, 50 years after Brazil left the transat­lantic slave trade in 1831, a Catholic priest earned good money sell­ing ille­gal work­ers to the plan­ta­tions. How­ev­er, since this doesn’t seem to bother anyone either, Gilda begins to doc­u­ment on film what she does not want to be for­got­ten. In the thick­et of the jungle, she and her cam­era­man begin look­ing for traces of past crimes.

The two direc­tors were so inspired by their protagonist’s per­sis­tence that they began con­duct­ing their own research. They dis­cov­ered his­tor­i­cal pho­tographs by Marc Ferrez, who cre­at­ed unique visual doc­u­ments of the Brazil­ian coffee plan­ta­tions in the 19. Century.

Thinking like a Mountain

The Arhua­co live in the high­est moun­tains of Colom­bia. They wear their tra­di­tion­al white clothes as they have for many cen­turies and main­tain their cul­ture and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, which is tight­ly inter­wo­ven with their nat­ur­al world. Alexan­der Hick chose to approach them through the land­scape, cre­at­ing com­pelling images of a rit­u­al­is­tic unity of people, lakes, ice, and rocks. By let­ting them talk, the film also revis­its the cen­tu­ry-old his­to­ry of the Arhua­co, about which very little is known. Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies tried to change them, and plan­ta­tions were built on their land where they were forced to work as slaves. During the civil war, they were caught in the cross­fire, while some of them fought for the FARC.
Just as the cli­mate change is alter­ing the land­scape, the self-under­stand­ing and resilience of this indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty, which can only live undis­turbed and follow their tra­di­tion­al ways in the most remote cor­ners of the moun­tains, is crum­bling. The modern world has become too omnipresent. What does the future hold in store for the Arhuaco?

Cracks in the Mask

Over the last 100 years, the Torres Strait Islanders in far north Aus­tralia have been the sub­ject of many anthro­po­log­i­cal expe­di­tions. The result­ing deple­tion of their cul­tur­al arte­facts has left them with noth­ing but a his­to­ry of remem­bered loss. The only people in the Pacif­ic to make elab­o­rate turtle shell masks have none left; all their mate­r­i­al cul­ture now resides in for­eign museums.

In a quest to reclaim the past, Ephraim Bani, a wise and knowl­edge­able Torres Strait Islander, trav­els with his wife to the great muse­ums of Europe where his her­itage lies. Ephraim unbur­dens him­self to his diary in moments of poignant rev­e­la­tion: the arte­facts made by his ances­tors have under­gone a trans­for­ma­tion as museum dis­plays. When Ephraim asks for the return of some objects, the result­ing debate expos­es wider ques­tions about con­tem­po­rary museum cul­ture as well as the com­plex­i­ty of inter­na­tion­al and Indige­nous pol­i­tics. They thought it would be easy to talk to the cura­tors about the resti­tu­tion of some objects; but to his mind, muse­ums were in com­pe­ti­tion with each other to own the great­est treasures.

Menschen im Busch

A por­trait of daily life and work in an African vil­lage. Seem­ing­ly untouched by colo­nial influ­ences, the inhab­i­tants are entire­ly self-suf­fi­cient. Eth­nol­o­gist Gulla Pfef­fer and cam­era­man Friedrich Dal­sheim found the vil­lage of the Ewe people in the inte­ri­or of Togo, which was a German colony until 1914. Work in the fields, hunt­ing, prepar­ing meals, weav­ing, pot­tery, danc­ing, and reli­gious rites govern the life of a com­mu­ni­ty whose most modern con­ve­nience is a tele­phone of tin cans and a string. Orig­i­nal speech record­ings, every­day sounds, and orches­tra music are con­cen­trat­ed into an ethno­graph­ic, doc­u­men­tary study, with drums, songs, and ecsta­t­ic dances cul­mi­nat­ing in a “finale furioso” …

People in the Bush is con­sid­ered one of the most poetic films of its day. It was the first time that German film­mak­ers con­sis­tent­ly rep­re­sent­ed the point of view of their doc­u­men­tary sub­jects. With no off-camera nar­ra­tion, the Togolese Ewe from this former German colony talk about their daily rou­tines and life in the Chelekpe vil­lage. All of the speech was re-record­ed during post-pro­duc­tion in Berlin, which was also a first in the his­to­ry of colo­nial and expe­di­tion films.” (Ger­linde Waz)