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In-between World
Film still from Cana Bilir-Meier’s “Zwischenwelt (In Between Worlds)”. A person
© Cana Bilir-Meier
  • Director

    Cana Bilir-Meier

  • Germany / 2023
    18 min. / Original version with English subtitles

  • Original language

    German, Bengali, English

In 1986 the Muhammad Iqbal Monument was erected in Munich, commemorating the poet, philosopher, and mentor of the independent postcolonial state of Pakistan. Iqbal, who completed his doctorate in Munich in 1907, lived in Bavaria for many years and died in Pakistan in 1938.
In 1962 Gani Bilir arrived in Kiel as a so-called Gastarbeiter. His payslips, which are visible in the film, are discovered by the filmmaker in the family archive. They are a document of the inhumane working conditions of migrant workers and their lack of recognition as humans in Germany.
A variety of places, moments, and snatches of historical memory are woven in the film into a particular decolonial view of our time. The telling of history and the politics of memory in Germany are oriented to a white dominant society. The longings, experiences, or struggles of Black people, People of Color, Indigenous people, and migrants are marginalized. Three sisters, Saboura, Basira, and Kirat, gather at historically significant sites in Bavarian history. They approach these stories with their own biographies and the sculptures by the artist Ahu Dural. As poets, the children of migrant workers, thinkers they stand for the many stories of resistance and biographies of the in-between world.

Production Cana Bilir-Meier. Production company Cana Bilir-Meier (München, Germany). Director Cana Bilir-Meier. Screenplay Saboura Naqshband, Aulic Anamika, Cana Bilir-Meier. Cinematography Lichun Tseng. Editing Lichun Tseng, Cana Bilir-Meier. Music Julian Warner. Sound design Robert Kroos. Production design Ahu Dural. With Aulic Anamika, Saboura Naqshband, Basira Beutel-Biyik, Kirat Sarkaria.

Cana Bilir-Meier studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, at the School Friedl Kubelka for Independent Film in Vienna, and at Sabancı University in Istanbul. In 2021 she was guest professor for art education at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. She works as a filmmaker, artist, and art teacher in Munich and Vienna. In 2018 she co-founded the Initiative for Commemorating Semra Ertan and in 2020 co-edited the volume of poetry: “Semra Ertan. Mein Name ist Ausländer/Benim Adım Yabancı.” Her works have been exhibited at the Kunstverein Hamburg; the Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm; at the Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin; Nürnberg Staatstheater and NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Munich, and at numerous film festivals.

Films: 2013: Semra Ertan (8 min.). 2017: Bestes Gericht (3 min.). 2019: This Makes Me Want to Predict the Past (16 min., Forum 2022). 2022: Zwischenwelt / In-between World.

Bonus Material

  • Film still from the film “Zwischenwelt” by Cana Bilir-Meier. The hands of a person hold a bird cut out of transparent paper into the camera. Steps can be seen in the background.


    Payslips of Gani Bilir discovered by Cana Bilir-Meier in the archives of her family

  • Film still from Cana Bilir-Meier’s “Zwischenwelt (In-between World)”. Three people sit on a staircase and look directly at us.


    Cana Bilir-Meier’s essay “Migratory Birds” builds on her grandfather’s paychecks and describes her family’s personal history as well as the historical and political background and struggles of the period

  • Film still from Cana Bilir-Meier’s “Zwischenwelt (In Between Worlds)”. On the left we see a detail of a monument made of stone. On the right a bird made of wood.


    Aulic Anamika’s poem “The In-between World” is based on her wanderings in three languages: Bengali, English and German

  • Film still from the film “Zwischenwelt” by Cana Bilir-Meier. Two hands hold a worn-out Turkish-language newspaper above a file.


Program Schedule

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur