Achim's impressions from Cairo in the spring of 2017
Achim is currently in Cairo for an internship with Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights. Here is what he writes about his first impressions: "Two and a half weeks ago my fourth stay in Cairo began, after I lived here for nine months while studying in 2013/14 and after two short holidays here in March 2015 and September 2016. Due to the fact that my last visit was just a few months ago, everything felt immediately familiar again. Because my last spring in Egypt was in 2014 though, I was surprised again, how cold temperatures more than 20 °C can feel. I’m still running around wearing a pullover, even during the day. The one big difference compared to my visit in September is the economic state of Egypt after they floated the exchange rate of the pound at the end of 2016. Back then I could get 12 pounds for 1 Euro, now it is almost 20 pounds. All this comes along with rising prices of course. For me as a European, the negative effects are counterbalanced by the weak pound, but for all the Egyptians I spoke with, it is really a catastrophe!"
14km Film and Discussion event
"Cairo Drive" (Documentary, Egypt, 2013, 79 min, with English subtitles) by Sherief Elkatsha on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm (screening at 7 pm) at Filmrauschpalast, Lehrter Straße 35, 10557 Berlin Moabit 14km presents the 4th film of this year's Film and Discussion Series On our fourth evening we will not only broach the issue of Cairo's traffic, but also have a look at the past years' political and social development since the revolution in 2011. 14km screens Sherief Elkatsha's documentary "Cairo Drive" in original language (Arabic, English) with English subtitles. The film portrays people struggling in the chaotic environment of Cairene megacity traffic and paints a bigger picture of the diversity of life in the metropolis, its challenges and moments of happiness. As traffic concerns everyone, people of all parts of society appear and what they all have in common is one thing: humor. Following the screening we will have an open talk with the audienceto discuss the film as well as the director's approach in presenting the topic. We will also talk about Egypt's political, social and economic development with distinguished guests. The discussion will be held in English. Director Sherif Elkatsha The documentary offers a unique, insightful and yet quite comical portrait of a country on the brink of change told through the metaphor of Cairo traffic. The film was shot over a three-year period before and during the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Accompanying a range of Cairo drivers, the film illustrates their daily struggle to navigate through the chaos, the unspoken rules and the more than 14 million vehicles and allows an insight into the different perspectives, sentiments and problems as well as the insecurities regarding the country’s collective identity and the people’s strong desire to get somewhere. Free entry - we appreciate donations The venue for the screening is Filmrauschpalast at the Kulturfabrik in Berlin Moabit (Lehrter Straße 35, 10557 Berlin). Facebook-Event
Michael on Lebanon and his stay with Himaya
*** Dieser Beitrag ist momentan nur auf Englisch verfügbar.*** The first thing to say about Lebanon has to be that it is the most fascinating country I have ever been. The difficult political situation, many other problems inside the Lebanese society and in the areas around mixed with the people who try to make the best out of it makes every conversation, every interaction incredibly interesting. At the same time it is also adventurous and exhausting. The traffic, especially in Beirut, is very stressful and you are very dependent on taking taxis everywhere, because of the lack of public transport. Every time leaving the house you need to be really aware of everything. Find a taxi, barge and make sure that you really get to the right place. However I never felt unsafe during the month I am here now. Everywhere you can find English speaking people who always try to help you in the best way. In general Lebanese people are quite open. It was very easy for me to meet friends, and they always love to show me around and tell me everything what they know about there country. The work at Himaya is nice so far. The team is great and they integrated me perfectly. After a few days I have not just at work, but also private contact with other colleagues. I have to mention that the language barrier is a little bit annoying at work. With a basic level in Arabic I could do much more tasks in the actual projects. There is work to do, but if you want to experience all the parts of the work in this NGO you will benefit a lot from some language skills. Thanks to 14km connecting me with Himaya. I really enjoy my time. *** Die von uns wiedergegebenen Berichte von durch uns vermittelte Praktikant/innen spiegeln nicht notwendigerweise die Sichtweise von 14km e.V. oder unseren Partnern wider.
YOU CAN JOIN THE 2016 '14km Film and Discussion Series' TEAM! - You are interested in North Africa and the Middle East? - You like to volunteer in a young team? - You enjoy to bring people with different cultural backgrounds together? - You are interested in film and documentaries? - You are good in organising? - You can help with project administration, public relations or simply support events? - You like to prepare social, political or cultural topics for our open audience discussions, moderate them, and invite speakers for this purpose? If you answered one or more questions positively, or if you are simply interested, please join our project startup meeting on Monday, 29 February 2016, at 7 pm (19:00), at Caffeteria Buchhhandlung 32, Tucholskystr.32, 10117 Berlin Mitte. 14km.org stands up for exchange and understanding between both neighbouring regions north and south of the Mediterranian Sea, in order to reduce the symbolic distance the Strait of Gibraltar (14km) sets. Since 2013 film and discussion events had been organised about current topics in North Africa or the Middle East. 14km Film and Discussion Series Feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Event
Mid-term report by Johanna with New Horizon
Johanna reports from her internship with New Horizon Association for Social Development in Cairo: I’ve been in Cairo for almost three weeks now and time went by very fast. Even though I’m out a lot, I still feel like I’ve hardly seen anything of the city yet. Cairo is just so big and everything is loud, colorful and confusing! One of the things I like most is to be in the Taxi in the mornings, passing the Nile on my way to work. Or sitting in one of all the small Coffee shops, having tea and watching the people passing by. Somehow I even like the smell of the city, a mixture of garbage, mud and car emissions. But finding a balance between what people tell me to do and what I personally feel is still very difficult and confusing for me. I feel very safe when I’m in the city, but I always loose this feeling when people constantly tell me how I should behave. I’m very curious to see if I will be able to find a proper balance during the next three months.
14km Film and Discussion Series - Looking Back on 2015
You can easily quantify the resounding success the 14km Film and Discussion Series had in 2015: we counted a total of 381 persons in our audiences, particulary encouraging was the increase in the share of people with personal migration background up to 23% (previous year 16%). The 14km Film Team was six times as large as in 2014, consisting of six volunteers. The maximum available budget (2,200 Euro) was around three times higher than in the year before. And, particularly striking: the number of events climbing by 100 % up to 8 full evening events - they lately took place in a short three weeks rhythm. The quality has been improved, too! This was due to our dedicated team, representing Europe and Northern Africa instead of Germany only. Composed by members originally from Germany, Tunisia and Spain we could hence formally live up to our slogan 14km - The shortest distance between North Africa and Europe. and include our inner diversity to our substantive work. Consequently "14km" became the heart of our series title, to point at perspectives of both parts of the Mediterranian to be equal parts of our Films and Discussions. We deliberately improved the film quality: in addition to indiependant documentary films we also screened more professionally made productions as well as feature movies for the first time, if they were suitable for the subsequent political debate. In the selection of topics, we considered previously not represented countries (Yemen, Sudan, Western Sahara) and devoted ourselves also to important transnational issues (Amazigh, children, migration, pop music, women's rights). Already in the beginning of the year 2015 the region of Northern Africa and the Middle East stood in the spotlights of great general interest. This focus'es boost to extremes during the year proofs the high relevance and importance of our work. You can easily name Children in War and on Flight one of the most important European media topics of the year. We gave this issue a special focus, screening the cineastic dilicacy Turtles Can Fly: the film takes place at the beginning of US attacks on Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003 and displays the suffering of children in refugee camps. On one hand, those events happened at the beginning of a series of events unfolding huge impact on today's situation in Iraq and in Syria (reasons for the awakening of the "IS"). On the other hand, there recently shines some hope for a stable political system, especially in the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq, were the film was shot. Refugee camps also appeared to be part of our evening on Migration to Europe, the next central media issue of the year. The ever-increasing flow of refugees from Syria kept the entire European Union in suspense. With the movie 14 Kilometers we put our contrasting focus on the western part of the Mediterranian Sea and dealt with a second natural divide whose characteristics (refugee camps, traffickers, death) are the same: the sand seas of the Sahara deserts. With this, the second unstable country was discussed: Libya. Various motives for flight and migration became clear: lack of economic opportunities and individual fate. These are motives that go far beyond war and terror, and are highly topical in the European debates about immigration and crime in the beginning of 2016. For our series, we set ourselves the goal to communicate a wide range of informations, impressions and opinions within the single discussions and to do so also by a rich variety of event's topics. North Africa and the Middle East consist of far more than the well known crisises in Syria and Libya. Elsewere in this region there is war, terror and flight, too. Somewhat less in the European focus is Yemen, were currently a Shiite-Sunnite war takes place, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We apporached the culture and sociey of Yemen by the provocative viewpoint of an egocentric European adventurer in the film Expedition Yemen, and we intensiveley discussed stereotypes, cultural and societal questions and especially the role of women in Yemen. Other crisis spots are currently all but forgotten in Europe. The Darfur conflict in Sudan has hardly lost strength and sees no realistic solution approaching, as the lesson of our event told us, which included the screening of Darfur's Skeleton. The discussion between Sudanese' in the audience included vivid accounts, particularly a young men asking with tears in his eyes how he should rebuild the country, if no one dares to leave the houses due to people were arbritarily shot on a daily basis. This local drama barely finds attention since foreign reportings were effectively prevented. Little European attention is paid to another conflict: the independence movement of Western Sahara against Morocco. This conflict has been very peaceful, also testified by the documentary Life is Waiting. Nowadays activistists discuss out of their failure and frustation to be more militant, in order to eliminate their status as the "last colony of Africa". Three other very interesting topics had curtural and societaly backgrounds. Our evening about Amazigh (Berber) refered to the region of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. The focus of the film Azul was on the life of this indigenious minority in Tunisia, while the discussion concentrated on Morocco. It raises the question how to deal with this cultural heritage of ancestors: with new pride, or at least with shame? The two discussions following the yet unmentioned films were build up around the everyday culture in Northern Africa. The Source is set in the Amazigh' region. We discussed the situation of women's rights in North Africa in terms of tradition and modernity, questions of power, freedom and emancipation - and sexuality. Thus we approached in a sense the source of life! We already started to discuss these issues of women and men, provoking openness and cultural induced shame, during our event on Mahragan (festival music) in Egypt, within the broader topic of political pop music. The film Electro Chaabi led to the portrait of young (male) musicians in Cairo. As usual, we concluded our meeting with a comprehensive online report which also resumed additional information from the audience. In this case: two rare examples of Electro Chaabi made by female musicians. Our warmest thank you goes firstly to our loyal and engaged audience, whose active participation provide the spice to our event series. We thank the Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (LEZ - Office of Development Corporation) - Federal State administration of Berlin, department for economy, technology and research - for their budgetary funds which made us realise our 14km Film and Discussion Series, and Mr. Walter Hättig and The North-South Bridges Foundation for the related and helpful support. Another thank you deserves the Filmrauschpalast volunteer team, which housed us on all eight evenings and made projections in digital and analogue (35mm) format possible on their cinema screen. On this occasion, we also thank the screening right distributors for the films shown. We like to take the opportunity to express gratefulness again to our invited guests, because without their inputs and contributions as experts (speakers) or witnesses, our public debates would not have been credible and authentic. My heartful thanks - last but not least - goes to my 14km Film Team. Carolin Bannorth, Silvia Limiñana, Khouloud Khalfallah, Houssein Ben Amor and Steffen Benzler - your cooperation made our dedicated project very interesting and succesful! In the name of the whole film team I express final thanks for the additional support of Susanne Kappe, Alex Odlum, Sarah Müller, Jana Vietze, Caroline Bunge and Helena Burgrova. Berlin, January 2016 Andreas Fricke (Project Manager) We express thanks for the support:
14km Film and Discussion Series
“Women’s rights should be at the top of the new list of priorities,“ said Pillay (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) on 3 March 2011, as the wave of revolutions swept across North Africa. In the four years since the revolution began in Tunisia, much has changed for many North African countries. In addition to political upheavals, many discussions on societal development have emerged, with the role of women in society a central theme. Once upon a time… the film shows, the issue of women’s rights in North Africa has come to the fore. Radu Mihăileanu’s feature film, “The Source” takes on a fairy tale-like narrative style right from the opening credits: This story of a group of women in a village “somewhere between North Africa and the Middle East,” is “somewhere between reality and a fairy tale.” The first scene of the film shows the disunity of the village community in all its clarity. Women fetch water from the remote water hole, while men sit around drinking tea. The village celebrates the birth of a child, while Karima mourns the loss of her unborn child due to an accident incurred fetching water. Scarred by having lost a child of her own in an accident while fetching water, young Leila decides that either the men fetch the water for the community, or they are to build an aqueduct to bring water into the village. At first, Leila meets stiff resistance, not least from her own mother. But soon enough, she manages to convince her loving husband and some village elders of the merits of the plan. Im Laufe des Filmes werden das Leben und die Rolle der Frau genau wiedergegeben. Die Frauen im Dorf beschreiben ihre Zeit bis zum 14. Geburtstag „als schönste ihres Lebens“, da sie bis dahin frei leben konnten. Sie beschreiben die Tatsache, dass die Frauen zu der entfernten Quelle laufen, um Wasser für das Dorf zu holen und dabei immer wieder durch Unfälle ihr Ungeborenen verlieren, als Tradition. Vor allem malen die Frauen ihr Leid immer wieder in Liedern aus und beschreiben sich dabei als „Fußmatten“ und „Lastenträger für die Männer“. Throughout, the film offers a unique portrayal of women’s lives and roles. The women of the village fondly describe the time until their 14th birthday “as the most beautiful of their lives,” when they could live freely. Then the tradition of fetching water from the remote source, losing unborn children in accidents along the way, sets in. Women are left to use their songs describing themselves as “doormats” and “load carriers for the men” to paint over their grief and frustration. The women take to their struggle through creative means. Unable to work the fields due to the drought, men sit around drinking their tea, while the women take to the water source, arranging branches to construct a fountain and inscribing the slogan: “Your hearts are dry and thorny.” Their expression of frustration culminates with the performance of their songs of grief at a local thanksgiving festival. A newspaper seizes the chance to publish an article detailing the situation in the village. Quick to realise the strike in this village could spread further, or that female demands might increase, the government sets about building the necessary aqueduct immediately. With the water line constructed, the women’s self-esteem grows. At the same time, the men’s fears this could lead the women to an even greater desire of power remain unfounded in the film's end in which the women admit “the source of women is love – the source of women is man.” The film continually portrays the struggle between traditional and modern times, taking up many taboo topics in Arab society to describe the hard fought struggle for female recognition. After the film, a discussion featured: Hoda Salah (doctorate in political science (PhD title: “The Political Participation of Islamic Activists in Egypt), women’s rights activist, and lecturer of political education); and Eva Christine Schmidt (current doctoral student at the Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies (PhD topic: Gender Politics in Transition: The Role of Feminist Actors in the Tunisian Transition). The discussants took on the themes of the film, applying them to the respective contexts in Egypt and Tunisia. Both speakers firstly described their overall impressions of the film. Attention was drawn to the film’s portrayal of women in villages, and contrasted against the role of women in cities – something quite different. It was importantly noted that the film did not involve Arab women, although it shared a similar concern for women struggling for their fundamental rights. Women in the city fight a different battle for their individual rights. The film tackles stereotypes, but in a different sense. For Hoda Salah, what is important is that “such films show women playing a strong role.” Another point of interest in this movie was its ability to grapple with multiple taboo topics in Arab society. Above all, dealing with the issue of sexuality is an exciting feature. The fact that Leila had made love before marriage was, for example, a key issue in the film. With love, her husband is able to forgive her. At the same time, concerns of marital rape cannot be escaped in the film. Close attention was paid to the role of women in Egypt and Tunisia, both before and after the revolution. Eva Christine Schmidt described the state’s dominant control before the revolution. Only a few small feminist organisations were able to exist then, mostly in the capital, such as the Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD) and the Union Nationale de la Femme Tunisienne. As society opened up following the revolution, a host of new feminist organisations were spawned across the country. Focus was placed on two major women’s movements – one with strong leftist tendencies and the other which promoted feminism in accordance with Islamic beliefs. It was interesting to note how the two organisations held contrasting views, making cooperation between them difficult. Hoda Salah described the role of women in Egypt in four phases, which all influenced the women’s movement as it is today. Egypt had one of the earliest women’s movements in the Arab world. A demonstration in Tahrir Square in 1933 following a conference in Italy saw women remove their headscarves – a strong show of freedom. And yet, today, the granddaughters of these pioneering women are back to wearing the headscarf, and refrain from simply adopting western traditions. Tensions have grown between these two approaches in Egypt. At the same time, those tensions are sometimes overstated: the struggle for rights can be described as an elitist struggle of the middle and upper classes – at least where individual rights are concerned. The basic fundamental rights of those women in the village in the film are a different matter. Priorities change when faced with such pressing real life issues. The audience offered some further perspectives on the role of women, particularly regaring their physical strength. The polarisation of society was highlighted. It was noted how men were deemed physically strong, while women were viewed as weaker – and how this view was intrinsic to the beliefs of the village. The importance of the revolutions to feminist activism was also noted. The idea that change need not necessarily be institutional was an important take away from the revolution. Rather than following leaders, young people could formulate and develop their own ideas together. A good example was the way flash mobs of Tunisian feminists joined together as the “Femen” activist group. That said, institutional struggles for feminism in Tunisia remain an important force. Unlike in Egypt, there are institutions and organisations in Tunisia that go out to the villages directly aiming to bring about changes in education and strengthen the independence of women. Furthermore, the role of men is an integral part of the struggle for women’s rights. While women are concerned with their own struggle for rights, it is important to also tackle the clear role of men as the financial centre of the family. Unemployed men suffer both social and familial humiliation. Trampling on men’s rights is not a sustainable solution – both sets of rights need to be considered and respected. Questions from the audience concluded the discussion, probing the discourse on women’s issues in the respective countries. The speakers addressed questions on the nature of this discourse. They cited examples of public demonstrations following the rape of woman at the hands of Tunisian police, and manifestations against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who had weakened the role of women in society. It was clear that such actions demonstrate the important political role of women in both countries. A final question suggested that more independent thinking from adolescents could serve as a catalyst for change. A major rethinking is needed to consider women not only as future housewives, but also as independent workers. Yet educational institutions tend to fail to instil such independent thoughts among the youth – uncritical rote learning and memorisation of facts is a staple in Egypt’s educational system. The internet and its possibilities for self-learning, however, offers an important opportunity to break with traditional education. Overall, the clear takeaway message was that of the different considerations of the role of women across society and between villages and towns. While the revolution in many ways helped to strengthen the role of women in society, the range of currents and understandings of this role continue to search for a common path. Youth are crucial to exploring and harmonising these different paths. Many thanks to the speakers and all the guests for coming and engaging in a fascinating discussion. A special thanks also goes to Hoda Salah and Eva Christine Schmidt for providing such interesting background information on the situation of women in Tunisia and Egypt. Event's Invitation with additional informations about "The Source" Further films about Women's Rights in our 14km Film Database Event organisation: Carolin Bannorth and Andreas Fricke Moderation: Carolin Bannorth Text: Sarah Müller Text translation: Alex Odlum Photos: Jana Vietze Organisation: The volunteer 14km Film Team Project Management: Andreas Fricke The 14km Film and Discussion Series 2015 gets sponsorship by budgetary funds of the Federal State of Berlin – Office for Development Cooperation. Read more event reports and background information at the project's homepage. The events are dedicatet to a single country or specific topic, in order to give an artistic-documentary impression . The ensuing audience discussion aims to include further informations by an affected person living in Berlin and by an scientific expert, always aiming to make links to North-South relationships. We express thanks for the support:
While the political actors of the Tahrir generation seem to fade away, their revolutionary spirit still simmers within Egyptian society. The “Mahragan” with its often blasphemous but honest lyrics, remains a lasting symbol of the achievements made towards freedom of speech in 2011. Our 7th evening in the 2015 14km Film and Discussion Series was devoted to this phenomenon of Egyptian pop culture and its development in Cairo’s slums. With “Electro Chaabi,” director Hind Meddeb describes the rise of this eponymous musical style (its name, “Mahragan,” roughly translates to “festival”): from the slums of Cairo to the mainstream of Egyptian popular culture. The film features Mahragan’s pioneering artists (DJ Amr Haha, DJ Ramy, DJ Vigo, Figo, MC Alaa 50 Cent, MC Sadat, Oka & Ortega, Weza – the last three of whom perform together as Eight Percent), who took old PCs, keyboards, and downloaded remix tapes to reinvent traditional Chaabi music with an electronic spin. Often piercing rhythms mix with distorted melodies, whose sarcastic and provocative lyrics highlight the struggles of daily life in Cairo’s slums. The artists repeatedly suggest that their success lies in their ability to express what people on the street are thinking, often using banal examples and humorous exaggerations, but also without hesitating to take up controversial political issues. The artists are portrayed in multiple settings: while practising their songs, in interviews with friends and relatives, and, importantly, at four of their live wedding performances. The latter exemplify where Electro-Chaabi music first evolved and became known, before being spread through videos across Youtube and ending as an omnipresent vibe in the streets and on public transport. The film dives into this male dominated, youth sub-culture, fighting for freedom of speech in a society where artistic expression is often tightly constrained. Even the Mahragan performers uncritically accept strict rules of gender separation: men and women never dance together, but always separately. The film consistently offers rare glimpses into the social realities of the densely populated streets and yards in Cairo’s poorer areas, where countless Tuk-Tuks toot their way through an endless sea of houses, mountains of (occasionally burning) garbage, and minors looking for their chance to earn some cash as a taxi-driver. These suburbs operate decoupled, and largely marginalised, from the reach of Cairo’s formal public services. According to one song, drug consumption offers many residents a relief from the stress of these chaotic scenes. An every day occurrence, even children are often caught in the cycle of drugs. While the film mostly takes place in suburbs like Imbaba, Al-Matariyyah, El-Salam City, it moves into downtown Cairo by the end. Mahragan is becoming mainstream. Oka & Ortega sign their first contract with a record company, taking the chance to become national celebrities. We see them appearing in talk-shows, and soon learn they are touring Cairo’s clubs and playing at upper class weddings in five-star hotels. Having made the big time, the film’s director can no longer reach them for an interview. Meanwhile, the pair’s long-term partner, Weza, remains confined to suburbs after he fell out with the others and was excluded from the contract. A public discussion following the film welcomed Mohammed Abdelmageed M. Hussein and Ahmed Awadalla, who having witnessed the emergence of Electo Chaabi in Egypt, were both well placed to comment. Ahmed Awadalla noted that 30 per cent of Egyptians live in conditions similar to those experienced by Mahragam’s pioneers in the slums. Yet, not only does Mahragam directly represent this section of society, but also another 30 per cent of Egyptians can certainly relate to the phenomenon – youth make up almost 60 per cent of the population. Even before the 2011 revolution, this musical style was evolving. It dates to around 2007-8, when it grew out of the streets and weddings of Egypt’s under-represented working class. With revolution, came an opportunity to break down class barriers and expand into a new space. While previously ignored by the media, Mahragan was soon able to conquer not only the “streets,” but also the (mass) media. Mohammed Abdelmageed M. Hussein explained that Electro Chaabi was a fusion of electronic influences with older Chaabi (Egyptian folk music), which is traditionally played at weddings in Upper Egypt – his home region. Originally, Chaabi was simply the music of ordinary people and their stories, neither particularly cultural nor political. An audience member pointed out that, in contrast, Electro Chaabi is clearly distinguishable from its traditional roots as a highly critical “voice of the poor”. In this, it seems to more closely represent the dynamics of contemporary Egyptian society. Asked whether Mahragan was comparable to gangsta rap in the US or baile funk in Brazil, and whether it formed part of a global movement, Mohammed could only partially agree. Indeed, all three have grown out of repressive histories and share many common themes, such as drugs, violence, sex, and to some extent politics. However, in Egypt, there is an additional revolutionary element. In this sense, Mahragan is more accurately analogised with hip hop and blues, which share a comparable, emancipatory connection to the American civil rights movement. When questioned on how Mahragan had reacted to the military coup in 2013, Ahmed Awadalla argued that the music has retained its presence. However, the genre now faces a debate over whether it promotes drug abuse and violence (similar to the challenges faced by the popular Sobky movies). As a result, it is increasingly battles bans and censorship. Yet, songs about drugs are nothing new in Egypt, according to one audience member, who pointed out that Egyptian lyrics had been making drug references as early as the 1920s. For Chaabi, this tradition has been particularly present since the 1970s, a time of political and economic transformation. Another interesting perspective from the audience pointed out the paradox in Chaabi’s reference to drug culture, given that it emerged from the same slums where strong conservative and Islamist movements have spread. Mohamed Abdelmageed M. Hussein explained this by suggesting the slums were dynamic spaces, constantly reshaping themselves and their identities. Correspondingly, such seemingly contradictory developments are not impossible. In line with the theme of 14km’s upcoming Film and Discussion Series evening on 8 December, the current discussion brought up issues of gender and tackled the question of why women had such a weak presence in the film: “Why are the men and women always split into separate groups? Is there not also newfound freedom for women?” One audience member suggested that across the MENA region, “everything is divided” along gender lines. It is socially accepted that women and men do not mix, rather keeping a distance from one another. That, however, does not in and of itself mean women are oppressed. Instead, it only highlights that women have their own sphere – one which is not portrayed in this film. While we see a dominant male culture here, that is not representative of all society. Another commentator argued it could even be dangerous to challenge these invisible boundaries; bringing women and girls into the picture could make them subjects of harassment or worse. Further, it was pointed out that in Egypt’s upper classes, including at the popular music festivals they attend, both sexes dance together without such strict separation. In the slums, however, it remained striking how only the men were able to seize the opportunity to express themselves freely. Lastly, we learned that there are indeed public Mahragan shows by and for women, but that these are neither large nor famous. For example: Our guest Ahmed Awadalla blogs. Biography of director Hind Meddeb Music tips from the audience Film review on norient Event coordination and presentation: Andreas Fricke Coordination of the Film Series: Andreas Fricke Text: Steffen Benzler Translation: Alex Odlum Photos: Jana Vietze Organisation: The 14km Volunteer Film Crew The 14km Film and Discussion Series 2015 gets sponsorship by budgetary funds of the Federal State of Berlin – Office for Development Cooperation. Further events are scheduled as followed: 9 December The events are dedicatet to a single country or specific topic, in order to give an artistic-documentary impression. The ensuing audience discussion aims to include further informations by an affected person living in Berlin and by an scientific expert, always aiming to make links to North-South relationships. We express thanks for the support:
14km Film and Discussion Series
“The Source” (feature, Belgium/Italy/France, original version with German subtitles, 125 min) by Radu Mihaileanu on Wednesday, 09th December 2015 at 6:00 p.m. (1800) at Filmrauschpalast, Lehrter Straße 35, 10557 Berlin-Moabit 14km.org presents the eighth evening screening of the 2015 “14km Film and Discussion Series”: The film, “The Source” (Arabic with German subtitles), is set in a village in North Africa. Director Radu Mihaileanu demonstrates the traditional female duty of hauling water from its mountain source along trails into the village. However, when the women begin to protest and call for an aqueduct, a conflict develops over issues of power, tradition and religion – and above all over gender roles. Following the film screening, special guests and the audience will discuss the role of women and the struggle for women’s rights in the countries and societies of North Africa. Attendance is free, donations are welcome. Facebook-Event The event takes place at Filmrauschpalast cinema, on the 1st floor of the Kulturfabrik's backyard building in Berlin Moabit: Lehrter Straße 35, 10557 Berlin. Films distribution page The 14km Film and Discussion Series 2015 gets sponsorship by budgetary funds of the Federal State of Berlin – Office for Development Cooperation. This is the last of eight 14km Film and Discussion eventsin 2015. The events are dedicatet to a single country or specific topic, in order to give an artistic-documentary impression . The ensuing audience discussion aims to include further informations by an affected person living in Berlin and by an scientific expert, always aiming to make links to North-South relationships. We express thanks for the support:
Thousands of refugees are crossing the border daily into Germany in search of a more secure future. Unlike Germany, in Europe this situation is well-known. The 6th evening in our Film and Discussion Series for 2015 featured Gerardo Olivares’ Film “14 Kilometers – The Pursuit of Happiness” as well as Harald Glöde from Borderline Europe in a panel discussion. As the evening unfolded, we saw that the latest developments filling the news today have long been foreseeable, and could have been far earlier addressed by policies. The film, “14 Kilometers – The Pursuit of Happiness,” accompanies three refugees – Violeta from Mali, along with the two brothers, Buba and Mukela from Niger – on their difficult journey to Europe. From the outset, it is clear that all three have put everything on the table for this journey. The challenges of life as a refugee are clear from the very beginning in Agadez. To get from here to the Algerian border, passengers load into a truck headed for Algeria, constantly harassed at arbitrary checkpoints by corrupt border officials. Those who run out of cash are left to be exploited, working the worst jobs to survive and keep their hopes of onward travel alive. Having fled the prospect of a forced marriage, Violeta ultimately finds herself faced with sexual exploitation on her travels. Explotiation, danger, and an irrepressible will The truck halts in Ténéré desert, northern Niger. The three travellers are facing a walk through the desert (“heading northwest”), aiming for the Algerian Tamanrasset, while the truck continues onwards in a different direction. Violeta, Buba and Mukela become lost. Unable to find the border town between Niger and Algeria, they run circles before falling exhausted under the shade of some acacias. At the last minute, passing Tuaregs are able to save Violeta and Buba. For Mukela, the help arrives too late. On the unforgiving route to Europe, one of only sources of solace is the unconditional hospitality of the traditional, nomadic tribes. Onwards, towards the Algerian-Moroccan border, Violeta and Buba manage to cross the frontier after several attempts, taking advantage of the chaotic bureaucracy. In Morocco, we find the first state authority who does not exploit the refugees, even going so far as to help them. Once in Tangiers, Violeta and Buba give the last of their money to a well-dressed people smuggler who offers to transport them across the Straits of Gibraltar. But after a successful crossing, there is not much time to celebrate. With police in hot pursuit, Violeta and Buba seek cover in the woods, before noticing the Civil Guard officials have turned a blind eye. While they can now travel undisturbed, the refugees realise an uncertain future awaits them. Shot back in 2008, the film shows the long ignored prelude to the present European migration crisis – particularly in this last scene, which aptly highlights the current state of Europe’s external borders. Different escape routes, similar reasons to escape According to Harald Glöde (Borderline Europe) in the post-film audience discussion, the film closely reflects current realities. However, this particular route from Morocco is rarely taken today, with Frontex ships and strict controls blocking passages through the Straits of Gibraltar or to the Canary Islands. Yet, unperturbed by the high, NATO-enforced fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, thousands of refugees remain poised in the mountains ready to cross en masse, even if only a few make it across at a time. But as state structures weaken in Mali and Algeria and insecurity grows in the face of Islamist threats, fewer refugees are venturing down such dangerous paths today. Nowadays, the main migration route from Sub-Saharan Africa goes through Agadez, directly towards Libya, where militias finance vast smuggling operations. According to Sea-Watch, there are two well-known transit points where Europe could be directing humanitarian aid. The first is in Libya, from where around 150,000 have journeyed to Italy this year. The other is Greece, which has served as a contact point to the EU for over 450,000 people – not only because the EU’s Dublin regulations have been de facto overruled and refugees are being allowed to travel onwards through Europe, but also due to the simple proximity of Greece to Turkey, where millions of Syrians are already seeking refuge. New Syrian refugees in Europe do not have many other alternatives. In North Africa, Morocco alone is the only country where Syrian refugees can live legally, supported by UNHCR. Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt offer no asylum procedures that would open new perspectives. Here, Syrian refugees face disenfranchisement and discrimination, with few informal labour opportunities. Even richer Arab states show little interest in welcoming large numbers of Syrian refugees. Unlike Syrians, however, those leaving sub-Saharan African may be differently motivated, and are more often on the move due to the lack of future prospects in their homelands. Europe cannot be absolved of responsibility for this state of affairs: fisheries agreements, milk powder and meat exports have all impacted on the African economies. Climate change further impacts on livelihoods. As a result, refugees are fleeing despair not only in Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia, but also in countries such as Nigeria, Chad, Ghana and Kenya. Military, humanitarian and political measures Asked whether it was possible to improve the safety of current migration routes, Harald Glöde rejected the idea that improvements could be made under current policies. Symbolic polices will continue, but will have little positive effect. Suggested solutions like asylum centres in Greece and Italy will not solve the problem. The audience clearly agreed that refugees could not simply be sent “between camps as packages!” The EU’s plan to resettle 100,000 refugees across Europe was, for Glöde, not sufficient given the current number of refugee arrivals. In any case, having been resettled to countries that persist in marginalising them, refugees would move on to safe third-countries at any cost. Moreover, he pointed out that, despite the EU border countries’ pleas, Germany refused to reform the Dublin system for many years. As Spain, Greece, Hungary and Italy were left to fend for themselves, Germany sat contentedly behind its buffer states. It is only now, when Germany finally feels the pinch herself, that she is pushing for reform. It seems that the only sustainable long-term solution to the crisis is to foster legal migration routes for refugees. Renaming the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR Med) as “Opeation Sofia” represented another symbolic gesture for Glöde, after a young girl was rescued by a military ship off the Libyan coast on 22 August 2015. Giving the military operation such a name serves as a mere attempt to give it a human face. The Libya operation is geared around three goals (1) Education (2) Redirection (3) Destruction of the smuggling boats. By October 2015, phase 2 was underway, but with no date for the third phase in sight. Indeed, navy operations by Frontex and coastguards were being matched by civil society: Sea-Watch, MSF (two ships), and a Maltese millionaire’s own private rescue ship! Motivations behind the refugee policies Asked whether arson attacks on refugee settlements and groups such as Pegida negatively impact on efforts to help refugees in Germany, Glöde argued that “Pegida is a Saxon problem.” One should not forget the positive energies set free. The politicians were “light years away from the a welcoming culture expressed in civil society.” In that sense, Angela Merkel’s commitment to welcoming hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany should be seen in the light of foreign policy, where it boosts Europe’s international prestige and Germany’s role as a leading nation in Europe rather than a well thought through policy on how to best accommodate and integrate a mass influx of refugees. Press review about the film (German) Films about MIGRATION in the 14km Film Database Event coordination and presentation: Andreas Fricke Coordination of the Film Series: Andreas Fricke Text: Steffen Benzler Translation: Alex Odlum Photos: Jana Vietze Organisation: The Volunteer 14km Film Crew At 11 and 12 July 2014 14km e.V. was hosting a symposium on “Displacement // Migration // Development" to discuss facets of migration between North Africa and Europe with human rights activists, scientists, fellows of diaspora organizations and interested participants. The report can be found here in German language. Additional informations: Nahrain Al-Mousawi (EUME) works currently on her book about migrant stories about the geographical borders Mediterranian Sean and Sahara. Both natural divides are analised as dividing as well as uniting for the affected humans. Reiner Klingholz and Stephan Sievert analyse factors steering the migration to Europe: "Crisis on Europe's Southern Borders" (Berlin Institute for Population and Development 2014) Paul Collier (2013): "Exodus" Ralph A. Austen (2010): "Trans-Saharan Africa in World History" The 14km Film and Discussion Series 2015 gets sponsorship by budgetary funds of the Federal State of Berlin – Office for Development Cooperation. The upcoming Film- and Discussion night will be about political pop music in Cairo. On November 18th we will screen the documentary "Electro Chaabi". Read more. Further events are scheduled as followed: 18 November / 9 December The events are dedicatet to a single country or specific topic, in order to give an artistic-documentary impression . The ensuing audience discussion aims to include further informations by an affected person living in Berlin and by an scientific expert, always aiming to make links to North-South relationships. We express thanks for the support: