Cinemanya A Film Case for refugees

Gustav Wallgren, Shuntaro Soeda and Zorba Khalil are excited about the film cases that were put together for refugee kids.
Gustav Wallgren, Shuntaro Soeda and Zorba Khalil are excited about the film cases that were put together for refugee kids. | Photo: Bernhard Ludewig

The presentation of a film case for refugee children and teens is a cinematic experience: The Goethe-Institut introduced its Cinemanya project at the ASTOR Film Lounge in Berlin and gave young people the opportunity to talk with secretary-general Johannes Ebert. By Theresa Feldhaus

Every last comfy brown leather chair in the hall of the premier cinema is occupied. On the morning of 21 December 2015, almost 200 young people between the ages of nine and 14 from Berlin’s school classes and welcoming classes have come to the ASTOR Film Lounge in Berlin to find out what’s inside the film cases. The event was planned by the Goethe-Institut together with the LiteraturInitiative Berlin and the regional association for films for children and young people.

The film cases are standing on the stage in front of the golden curtain like treasure chests. On the outside, they are inconspicuous aluminium cases, but inside are DVDs of 18 German feature-length films subtitled or dubbed in Arabic, two animated and two short film programmes as well as an educational film handbook containing summaries and discussion topics for work with young refugees.
 
Secretary-general Johannes Ebert, Michael Harbauer and Norbert Mehmke proudly present the cases packed full with films. Secretary-general Johannes Ebert, Michael Harbauer and Norbert Mehmke proudly present the cases packed full with films. | Photo: Bernhard Ludewig Among the audience are Gustav Wallgren (14) from Germany, Shuntaro Soeda (14) from Japan and Zorba Khalil (13) from Syria. They are here to discuss the issues of film, integration and cultural differences with the secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, Johannes Ebert: What is unique about the film medium? What emotions can films provoke? And how can films help us learn about other cultures? To ensure that everyone can participate in the conversation, the whole event is being held in German, English and Arabic.
 
The pupils in the audience are spellbound after the introductory discussion by a scene from Crocodiles, in which a boy climbs onto a roof as part of a dare. Almost all young people in Germany are familiar with the film adaptation of the classic novel by Max von der Grün. The novel is an indispensable part of school curricula. And the story speaks not only to German young people. Zorba and Shuntaro are just as engrossed in the scene. Although much in their home countries looks different than in Germany, they are familiar with the problems, experiences and issues faced by the young people in the film.
 
The young audience eagerly awaits the start. The young audience eagerly awaits the start. | Photo: Bernhard Ludewig The second excerpt from the Austrian film Your Beauty Is Worth Nothing revolves around Veysel, who fled with his family to Vienna and has not been integrated in society due to a lack of language skills. Everyone agrees that this film represents the problems well that refugees face after their arrival in Germany. The discussion makes it clear that the young people approve of the choices for the film case.
 
The first of a total of 15 cases are already on their way to their sponsors who will take them to refugee camps, schools and cultural centres. Soon, at various locations throughout Germany, films will promote mutual understanding and cooperation.