White cultural producers are fighting to retain their privileges: to date they still occupy dominant positions in the German art industry and therefore presumably experience the mere existence of political correctness as a threat.
The last few Bundestreffen have taken place in Helmarshausen in Hessen (just north of Kassel). The entire youth hostel is booked out and for four days Black people from all over Germany are invited to participate in workshops, organise seminars, listen to lectures, offer childrens activities, watch films or simply relax. Of course there are also plenary discussions, parties and BBQs, as well as long walks, table tennis and yoga classes. Bundestreffen is as multifaceted as its participants are; the programme is as ambitious as the activists who work in their various roles to make it happen.
Dodua Otoo's writing is efficient and brutal with a journal-like quality. This writing style effortlessly explores complex issues like white supremacy in intimate relationships, cultural colonialism, immigration, the mine-field of divorce and universal human failure. None of these issues are at the center of the story, yet are weaved through everything that happens. Her narrative gives us a sneak peek into the unsaid and often felt universe of a black woman in Berlin.
FATAL ASSISTANCE (Assistance Mortelle) is Haitian-born director Raoul Peck's attempt to set the record straight. The feature documentary rebukes the naive assumption that relief efforts are purely altruistic, and shows another side of the Haitian people - one of hard-working, inventive men and women whose patience with all their new, international "friends" is wearing thin... It's an economic vampire story with enough examples of mismanagement to make you scream.
In a country where being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer is a crime, there are still people who dare to be themselves and put their freedom on the line in order to help others in the community. The documentary, the feature-length debut of directors Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann, premiered at the Berlinale and introduced us to the lives of homosexuals living in Cameroon. The film is self-produced and is shot guerrilla style.
Last week's premiere event was a great inauguration. "The Politics of Community" was the overarching theme, but after a wonderful introduction to give some academic context, Taylor expertly guided our discussion forth and back to other areas of concern. Topics ranged from politically correct vocabulary (one beautiful Black women rejects both terms "race" and "mixed" to describe herself), to how German administrative forms fail to reflect the diverse background of some Berliners (how can you communicate that your place of birth, ethnicity and place of residence are are varied when there is only one box to check?) to how the emphasis on Germany's Nazi past leaves little room to address the atrocities of colonialism that foreshadowed it.
The original master material of Clarke's was lost for over 45 years, and thanks in part to Milestone Pictures Kickstarter campaign, a restored print was premiered at the film festival in Berlin to sold- out audiences. One has to wonder how such a seminal film, one that Ingmar Bergman described as, “The most fascinating film I've ever seen,” could come so close to being lost from history. It would be easy to say that the Black, gay character and a female director are the cause for the films mishandling by the powers that be, but perhaps the films' challenging nature - exactly the thing that make it so special – is what put it in danger of being erased from the film canon.