Past as Process: Redrawing the Past
These films do not just tell history, they pose questions and place new characters in classic stories to interrupt what we think we know about German legends and who gets to be legendary.
Gräfin Sophia Hatun (1997) dir. Ayşe Polat
Germany/Turkey. 15 minutes.
In German and Turkish with English subtitles.
Polat’s film depicts an encounter between a Turkish man and a German woman that predates the Wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s. Countess Sophia Dorothea von Wilhelmsburg was imprisoned in her husband’s castle in the late 1600s as punishment for falling in love with another man. Polat envisions her complex relationship with her servant, a Turkish refugee of the wars between Poland and Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The cyclical nature of the story is duplicated in the script and the cinematography. Not only does the rupture in the relationship between the Countess and her quiet servant begin at the same place that it ends, the spiraling of the performances also questions the passage of time and its supposed linearity.
Roots Germania, (2007) dir. Mo Asumang
Germany. 18 minutes.
In German with English subtitles.
When a German neo-nazi band performs the lyric, “this bullet is for you, Mo Asumang,” the journalist and TV presenter sets out to overcome her fears and investigate the roots of racism in German culture. With tenacity and courage, Asumang interrogates neo-nazis and eventually takes the advice of one literally: Asumang goes back to where she came from (no, not to her birthplace in Kassel – to the home of her father: Ghana). Asumang turns the provocation into an opportunity and meets with her family to learn more about her Akan heritage. Rather than look for differences, Asumang finds similarities between German and Ghanaian culture. Roots Germania
tells a speculative history of Germany, one where xenophobia and hate are a contradiction to Germanness.