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“Fiktionsbescheinigung” (literally “fiction certificate/certificate of fictionality”) is a concept used in German officialese. When people from non-EU countries apply to have their residence permits extended, they receive this particular certificate to cover the period during which their application is processed, thus enabling them to prove their temporary right of residency in Germany. Yet this period is a time of insecurity for them nonetheless. Will the application be rejected or approved? Processing can take several months and sometimes even years. The application itself would actually be more enough to prove the right of residency, but the German authorities seemingly prefer a more bureaucratic approach. 

With this in mind, the film series “Fiktionsbescheinigung. 16 Cinematic Perspectives on Germany,” poses the question: who is able to enter German cultural history, cinemas and the film canon and who is left outside? Who determines what is shown? What can be done about how roles are traditionally attributed within the cultural industry?

Anyone who assumes that we in Germany in 2021 live in an open, differentiated society to which people or previous generations of their families who immigrated to the country decades previously belong without question will repeatedly be confronted with a racist reality. And as long as this racism continues to seep into images and narratives, it will hardly come to a halt at the barriers before film sets either, nor at the fictional spaces on the big screen or the devices on which we watch content at home. 

“Fiktionsbescheinigung” responds to this situation with the idea of a fluid list of films from the last four decades. The series sees itself as a snapshot of an ongoing, self-determined process of intervention and protest. Each of the films functions as a suggestion as to how the white German gaze can be countered with diverse, intersectional perspectives, with all of them having one thing in common: their own visual and textual practice of testimony from within, not from the margins. Several works in the “Fiktionsbescheinigung” programme deal directly or indirectly with the absurdities of bureaucracy (JORDMANNEN) or the Kafkaesque obstacles that lie in the way of citizenship and belonging (DIE TÜRHÜTERBRUDERLAND IST ABGEBRANNT). Others carve out paths across the land and through the cities, exploring places mostly unknown to the majority society despite their forming a lively part of Germany (AUSLANDSTOURNEE) or researching biographies for which the same applies (ZİYARET, VISIT).

Some treat the white gaze with humour (IN THE NAME OF SCHEHERAZADE). Important documents from the past (18 MINUTEN ZIVILCOURAGEBLACK IN THE WESTERN WORLD) receive the visibility they should have received since their creation. Others grapple with generational conflicts in this country of immigration (GÖLGE) or have children look at the lives of their parents (SORGE 87). And yet others remember the victims of racist violence (DER ZWEITE ANSCHLAG) or express their diversity via plot and character structures which propose subtle, narratively well-integrated forms of critique (EXILETHE TEARAUF DEN ZWEITEN BLICKFAKE SOLDIERS). One film even allows itself the freedom of jumping into the future to imagine a better world (OCTAVIA’S VISIONS).

In the process, “Fiktionsbescheinigung“ encourages viewers to ask themselves where these films have been previously hiding and why the majority of them have not been accessible to a wider audience. The series thus offers a basis for discussion so that exclusion and discrimination in front of and behind the camera, at festivals, in archival and canonisation processes and in the distribution and reception of films in Germany can be properly talked about. This discussion will be extended in a three-day panel programme to take place virtually to present the diverse perspectives that can point the way for German film and show how racism in film can be grappled with. 

Enoka Ayemba, Karina Griffith, Jacqueline Nsiah, Biene Pilavci, Can Sungu

Translated from the German by James Lattimer

About the curators

Enoka Ayemba is a film curator and film critic focusing on African cinematographies, the Nigerian video industry and anti-colonial movements. He has been a consultant for the Berlinale Forum since 2019.

Karina Griffith’s work has been shown at international galleries, theatres and festivals. She has curated film and interdisciplinary programmes for the Goethe-Institut and Ballhaus Naunynstraße among others. She teaches at the Berlin University of Art Institute for Art in Context and is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto where her research on Black authorship in German cinema interacts with theories of affect and intersectionality.

Jacqueline Nsiah is a freelance film festival, arts and cultural consultant. Her years of experience across the world include her work as co-director of the Cambridge African Film Festival in 2008 and as producer of the Real Life Documentary Film Festival in Accra. Nsiah currently works as a curator for the Berlinale Forum and as a project manager for the Goethe-Institut’s African industry film platform cinidb.africa.

Biene Pilavci began the Directing programme at the DFFB in Berlin in 2005 where she made numerous short films. Pilavci completed her studies in 2012 with her third-year film ALLEINE TANZEN about the power of family. In 2013, she made CHRONIK EINER REVOLTE – EIN JAHR ISTANBUL together with Ayla Gottschlich with support from ZDF and ARTE. She is co-founder of the film-political initiative NichtmeinTatort and the film network Neue Deutsche Filmemacher*innen.

Can Sungu is a freelance artist, curator and researcher. He has given lectures on film and video production and curated several programmes on film and migration. He has also taken part in various exhibitions, including at Künstlerhaus Wien and REDCAT Los Angeles. In 2014, he co-founded bi'bak in Berlin, where he works as artistic director. Since 2020, he has been running the cinema experiment SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA at the Haus der Statistik in Berlin.

Overview

Funded by:

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