Editorial 2019

The students’ platform celebrates its third edition!

Once more, we are showcasing exceptional works by up-and-coming filmmakers and visual anthropologists from all around the world. We are reinstating our schedule from our first year and are showing all students’ films in one go. Following the festival’s character of a forum, there is no competition in the students’ platform. Instead, we aim to provide a platform to tell stories, raise voices, and network with fellow students and established filmmakers alike – and of course with our audience.

We are presenting films that explore the complexity of our world by telling individual stories within their local context. This year, we shed light on the current issues of displacement, deportation, asylum, and migration, lending our ears to the people who are listened to the least.

IN THE DEVIL’S GARDEN is a sensory ethnographic study that situates the viewer within the remote makeshift space of an animal market in Algeria and eventually reveals the situation of the Sahrawi refugees living there. I AM GOLDEN KAREN tells the coming-of-age story of Thaawa, a Karen rapper and refugee in Thailand, searching for his identity and a way back to “his” homeland in Myanmar. DEMIAN, on the other hand, has come back to his “homeland,” but not by choice. He was denied asylum by German authorities and was deported to Douala, Cameroon, to a “homeland” where he knows no one and has to struggle for survival. SYRIAN METAL IS WAR is a film about an unrecognizable homeland that is being destroyed and offers a rather personal insight into the Syrian War and a subculture that is often not understood by outsiders.

Whereas some filmmakers tell their stories through quiet observation, others are loud and provocative and use film as a medium of resistance. WITH OUR EYES tackles the issue of stigmatization, prejudice, and structural racism from the perspective of five Muslim students. Racism is revealed to be a crucial issue that is relevant everywhere – especially inside your own family. In FILM FOR CARLOS, the Guatemalan father of a newborn faces the racism of his Russian parents-in-law, who are so proud of their so-called Russian Empire that it can make us laugh and frighten us at the same time.

Racism is always a question of power and power structures that did not end with the colonial era. Two films try to tackle postcolonial issues by tracing both sides of history. In EMAILS TO MY LITTLE SISTER, Ethiopian director Solomon Mekonen reflects on his experiences of “becoming black” in Europe and expresses his worries for his sister’s wellbeing, who wants to study in Berlin, like him. In FAIRE-PART, two Congolese and two Belgium filmmakers team up to tell a story that both connects and separates them at the same time by following street artists in Kinshasa.

We are also focusing on India with three documentaries in this year’s students’ platform. UP DOWN & SIDEWAYS is a portrait exploring the connection between work and music that accompanies the people of Phek, a village close to the Indian-Myanmar border whose livelihood depends on rice cultivation. The next two films explore emic approaches to “development” while questioning what development actually means. Whereas AT THE CROSSROADS  pursues this question in the hills of a small village in the Himalaya, the observational documentary WITHERING HOUSE is set in the urban environment of Ahmedabad, where we follow an elderly couple who are preparing to move from their old house in the old part of the city to a new house assigned to them by the government.

Two other documentaries shed light on people whose living spaces, traditions, and cultures are endangered in the name of “development” and industrialization. THE RIVER, MY FRIEND accompanies four Sami women who live along the Lule River in Sweden who share both their memories as well as their stories of loss and resettlement. BEJAM BE follows the Penan people in Borneo, who are among the first in this area to be affected by deforestation.

Finally, we reflect on the medium of film itself. VIOLENCE IS TO CHARGE 600 EUROS is a two-part experimental film project. Investigating public communication and information, Part I explores the outcry represented by political graffiti in European cities, while Part II looks at the dynamics of the power of information and the public while following a man who is transporting boxes of oranges to the seaside.
Join us for the third edition of exciting films and inspiring discussions in a welcoming atmosphere.

Nora Duchêne, Carsten Stark & the students’ platform team