November 2013, arsenal cinema

The Space Between Us

BLACK DEUTSCHLAND, 2006

Trans-African movements have long connected the continent with the old and new world. The exhibition project THE SPACE BETWEEN US addresses the transcultural and transcontinental enmeshments that reach all the way to Germany. The project is being implemented by a variety of active exhibition formats at the same time – the display of photographic reproductions on billboards all over Berlin, the presentation of artistic positions at the ifa-Galerie Berlin, a music convention involving radio, and last but not least, a film program at Arsenal and the ifa-Galerie Berlin from November 18-20. These different media and formats are used to emphasize the variety and particularity of each position and medium that each pick up on a particular aspect of trans-African relations. The central theme of the film program is movements, within Germany and to and from Germany, and all the way back to Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya or South Africa, which cinema has an ability to narrate in a very singular manner. The selected films engage with these movements and develop narrative forms that take the to and fro just as seriously as the being here in its political, aesthetic and social crossing of boundaries. The exhibiton THE SPACE BETWEEN US and the film series was curated by Marie-Hélène Gutberlet. Also see thespacebetweenusberlinstuttgart.wordpress.com

DIE GESCHICHTE DER AUMA OBAMA (The Education of Auma Obama, Branwen Okpako, G 2011, 18.11.) is a portrait of Barack Obama's half-sister Auma Obama during his first presidential campaign. Auma Obama studied German in Heidelberg and film at the dffb in Berlin. She now works in Kenya.

The fictional short GRACELAND (Andy Amadi Okoroafor, F/SA 2013, 18.11.) was made during the "Shoe Shop" exhibition that took place in Johannesburg in 2012 with the involvement of filmmakers Idrissou Mora-Kpai and Khalo Matabane. It will be screened alongside the documentary BLACK DEUTSCHLAND (Oliver Hardt, G 2006, 18.11.). Both films move with their protagonists through urban and culturally shaped landscapes, roaming Johannesburg (GRACELAND) and Berlin, Hamburg und Dresden (BLACK DEUTSCHLAND). To be black, to be here and to be different is visibly represented by daily and very different forms of individual behavior, struggle and concepts of life, which are rarely reflected in the German media landscape.

THE HALFMOON FILES (Philip Scheffner, G 2006, 19.11.) is based on extensive research about the Wünsdorf Halfmoon Camp, where "colonial soldiers" of the French and British armies were interned during World War One and where their voices were recorded. Scheffner follows the recordings all the way back to where they took place in his experimental quest, and thus interweaves German colonial history with the present.

SCHLAFKRANKHEIT(Ulrich Köhler, G 2011, 19.11.) detaches itself from the certain narrative patterns so beloved of popular German-African cinema and asks himself how he can tell the story of development workers who no longer know where they come from and how images can be shot in the dark without coming across as exotic.

OTOMO(Frieder Schlaich, G 1999, 20.11.) is one of the rare low-budget feature films made in Germany that features international black and white stars. Isaach de Bankolé and Eva Mattes only meet briefly before being caught up by events, and the sought-after asylum seeker Otomo is killed by police shots.

The essayistic documentary ABSENT PRESENT (Angelika Levi, G 2010, 20.11.) is also about a quest: for Benji, a young man, who was brought to the GDR from Namibia in 1979. When the Berlin Wall fell and the GDR disappeared from the political map, so did he. The filmmaker, a friend of the disappeared man, makes her way to Gran Canaria, Senegal, to beaches and to the vicinity of deportation camps. (mhg)