Focus of the films shown at the arsenal are productions that appeal to the trans-african relations in Germany in documentary and feature films, while the films at the ifa Gallery Berlin have a more open, more experimental character. In the afternoons films by Brigitta Kuster, Thenjiwe Nkosi, Penny Siopis, Veronika Gerhard and Jean-Pierre Bekolo will be shown there.

Schwerpunkt der gezeigten Filme im Arsenal sind Produktionen, die die trans-afrikanischen Beziehungen in Deutschland in Dokumentar- und Spielfilmen ansprechen, während die Filmvorführungen in der ifa-Galerie Berlin einen offeneren, experimentelleren Charakter haben; nachmittags werden dort die Filme von Brigitta Kuster, Thenjiwe Nkosi, Penny Siopis, Veronika Gerhard und Jean-Pierre Bekolo gezeigt.

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PART I   / 18 – 20 NOVEMBER 2013

Eintrittspreise: Gäste: 7,50 € , Mitglieder: 5 € , Berlin-Pass: 3 € //
Kartenvorbestellung:  ticket(at)  (Mo–Fr bis 17h), Telefon: 030-26955-100
All films are shown as original versions with English subtitles. /  Alle Filme werden als Originalfassung mit englischen Untertiteln gezeigt.

Montag / Monday, 18. November

19.00 / 7 pm  The Education of Auma Obama,
Branwen Okpako, D 2011, 79’ OmE (in Anwesenheit von Branwen Okpako)
21.00 / 9 pm  Graceland, Andy Amadi Okoroafor, F/NGR/SA 2013, 15’, OF (engl.)  and
Black Deutschland, Oliver Hardt, D 2005, 55’ OmE (in Anwesenheit von  Oliver Hardt und  Andy Amadi Okoroafor)

Dienstag / Tuesday, 19. November

19.00 / 7 pm  Halfmoon Files, Philip Scheffner, D 2007, 87’ OmE  (in Anwesenheit von Philip Scheffner)
21.00 / 9 pm  Schlafkrankheit
Ulrich Köhler, D 2011,  91’ OmE;
Mit  Pierre Bokma, Jean-Christophe Folly, Jenny Schily, Hippolyte Girardot, Maria Elise Miller, Francis Noukiatchom,  Ali Mvondo Roland, u.a.

Mittwoch / Wednesday, 20. November

19.00 / 7 pm  OtomoFrieder Schlaich, D 1999, 82’ mit engl. UT, OmE
Mit Isaach de Bankolé, Eva Mattes, Barnaby Metschurat, Hanno Friedrich u.a. (in Anwesenheit von Frieder Schlaich)
21.00 / 9 pm Absent Present, Angelika  Levi, D 2010, 85’, OmE (in Anwesenheit von Angelika Levi)


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PART II / 21 – 24 NOVEMBER 2013
Talks and films are in English.  (Eintritt frei /  free admission) / Gespräche und Filme sind in englischer Sprache. 

Donnerstag / Thursday, 21. November
16.00 / 4 pm  
 Have you ever been a citizen of any country? Four films by Penny Siopis (Cape Town), Introduction by Cara Snyman (Johannesburg)

Freitag / Friday, 22. November
16.00 / 4 pm
   Boundaries  and Angles – Two films by Thenjiwe Nkosi,
Thenjiwe Nkosi in conversation with Cara Snyman (both Johannesburg)

Samstag / Saturday, 23. November,
16.00 / 4 pm
  2014 – 1892 = 122 Years of Being – Brigitta Kuster presents films from her ongoing research/video project  Choix d’un passé – Traits d’union

Sonntag / Sunday, 24. Nov.
16.00 / 4 pm A Place for Space
With the last screening session of THE SPACE BETWEEN US we will celebrate the premiere of  the director’s cut of Veronika Gerhard’s short film Space Is the Place! (2013, 30′), and Le président (2012, 63′) by Jean-Pierre Bekolo. Both films look for the transformative dynamics in today’s urban youth, be it the remake of Sun Ra’s futuristic film (1972) being relocated in today’s Berlin in a kanackfuturist setting or in Cameroon’s media and music subcultures, challenging political and economic restrictions.


About the films/ Zu den Filmen

The Education of Auma Obama
Branwen Okpako’s The Education of Auma Obama is a captivating and intimate portrait of the U.S. president’s older half-sister, who embodies a post-colonial, feminist identity. An academic overachiever, she studied linguistics and contemporary dance in Heidelberg, Germany, befo re enrolling in film school in Berlin, where she met Nigerian-born director Okpako in the nineties. After living in the United Kingdom for a short period, Auma Obama eventually moved back to Kenya to mentor a young generation of community activists, social workers and other ambitious young men and women who lacked her privileged education and training, but were nonetheless determined to make a positive contribution to their society. Written by TIFF

The Education of Auma Obama von Branwen Okpako portraitiert Barack Obamas Halbschwester, Auma Obama während der Kampagne zur Obamas erster Präsidentschaftswahl. Auma Obama studierte zeitweise in Heidelberg Linguistik und Tanz und wie Wanjiru Kinyanjui und Tsitsi Dangarembga und später die Regisseurin Branwen Okpako an der DFFB in Berlin Film und ist heute in Kenia aktiv.


is a short poetic film about loss, death and mourning. It is also a look on contemporary South Africa and the characters that inhabit it. I have travelled and worked in Johannesburg through fashion, advertisement, television series. This short  film  is my love letter to the city… though a sad one. (AAO)/

Graceland entstand während der Ausstellung „Shoe Shop“ in Johannesburg 2012 unter Mitwirkung der Filmemacher Idrissou Mora-Kpai (Mora-Kpai studierte an der HFF Potsdam Regie und wurde durch seine Dokumentarfilme Arlit, zweites Paris und Sigeriki, la reine mère international bekannt) und Khalo Matabane (sein Film Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon lief auf der Berlinale 2006).


Black Deutschland
Graceland wird gemeinsam mit dem für arte entstandenen Dokumentarfilm Black Deutschland gezeigt; beide Filme bewegen sich mit ihren Protagonisten durch urban und kulturell geformte Landschaften, durchstreifen Johannesburg (Graceland) und Berlin, Hamburg und Dresden (Black Deutschland). Schwarzsein, Hiersein und Fremdsein werden als tägliche und individuell sehr verschiedene Verhandlungsformen, Kämpfe und Lebensentwürfe sichtbar, die sich im deutschen Medienbild nur selten gespiegelt finden.

„It would be expected that a documentary film about the black experience in Germany would talk about racism. After all, it’s a country with a sordid history of the intolerance perpetrated during the Third Reich. However, the way Oliver Hardt’s „Black Deutschland“ tackles this issue, not on its own, but as part of the whole experience of ‚otherness‘ is commendable.Black Deutschland shot in 2006 takes us through both the physical landscape of German cities and its cultural spaces as inhabited by a small group of Afro-Germans whose various versions of blackness and their burden of expectations, reveal age-long problems that persist. With a cast of well- established actors, musicians, cultural activists, writers and allround creatives, who were either born in or migrated to Germany, the problems of sexual objectification and stereotypes in advertising and television boils to the surface.  Identity and self-concept resonate in this film as a constant bookmark in the narration of their collective existence. The internal conflict between their German and black sides throws up dilemmas that are (dis)coloured by their personal experiences. On the other hand, the reality thrown up by being a ’nigger‘ evokes deep concerns as Hardt punctuates the narrative with footage of riots against blacks. Even though most black Germans do not want to be defined just by their blackness, the musicality of their souls inevitably spills into the documentary with Oliver Hardt sprinkling strains of hip-hop, soul, reggae on a well-told story. With some of these black Germans working with children and media houses, the role of education and advocacy in effecting harmony in a multicultural society is well-proclaimed.“

‘Lost and Found in Germany. A Review of Black Deutschand’ by Opeyemi Balogun (Lagos, Nigeria).


Halfmoon Files
basiert auf einer umfangreichen Recherche zum Wünsdorfer Halbmondlager, in dem während des Ersten Weltkriegs gefangene „Kolonialsoldaten“ der französischen und britischen Armee interniert waren. Dort entstehen Tonaufnahmen denen Scheffner in seiner experimentellen Spurensuche bis an den Ort ihrer Aufnahme folgt und verzahnt die greifbar werdende deutsche Kolonialgeschichte mit der Gegenwart.

‘There once was a man.This man came into the European war. Germany captured this man. He wishes to return to India. If God has mercy, he will make peace soon. This man will go away from here.’
Mall Singh’s crackling words are heard as he spoke into the phonographic funnel on 11th December 1916 in the city of Wünsdorf, near Berlin. 90 years later, Mall Singh is a number on an old Shellac record in an archive – one among hundreds of voices of colonial soldiers of the First World War. The recordings were produced as a result of a unique alliance between the military, the scientific community and the entertainment industry. In his experimental search The Halfmoon Files, Philip Scheffner follows the traces of voices to the origin of their recording. Like a memory game – which remains incomplete right until the end – he uncovers pictures and sounds that revive the ghosts of the past. 


Der Spielfilm Schlafkrankheit löst die sicheren narrativen Muster, die das deutsch-afrikanische Erfolgskino pflegt und fragt, wie man eine Geschichte über Entwicklungshelfer erzählen kann, die nicht mehr wissen wo sie her sind und wo sie hingehören, ohne das tropische Setting zum exotischen Abgrund bzw. Paradies zu machen.

„Auf der Berlinale 2011 verlieh die Jury unter dem Vorsitz von Isabella Rossellini den Regiepreis an Ulrich Köhler. Völlig zu Recht, denn dieser junge Regisseur ist ein Meister der inszenatorischen Beiläufigkeit, der kleinen beredten Gesten und großen Nebensächlichkeiten. Es sind kleine Alltagsbeobachtungen, mit denen Köhler das große spätkoloniale Drama erzählt. Er wird den Sinn und Unsinn von Entwicklungshilfe beleuchten, das Dilemma von Hilfe und Abhängigkeit und eine Sehnsucht, die vielleicht nur die Angst vor der eigenen fremden Heimat ist. Und er erzählt von einem Mann, der sich selbst abhandenkommt, ohne dass wir genau erfahren, warum. All dies wird in Schlafkrankheit verhandelt, ohne dass nur eine einzige Szene exemplarisch, metaphorisch oder symbolisch wirkt. Vielmehr gelingt diesem Regisseur die Quadratur des Kreises: Seine Szenen sind ganz bei sich und weisen gerade deshalb über sich hinaus.“
(Katja Nicodemus, ZEIT online 22.6.2011)

‘What’s interesting about this film is that it refuses to be seen as a criticism or essay on any particular third-world problematic, but rather treats many different problems belonging to these environments as well as their relationship with the first world as a single interweaving set of elements that cannot be analyzed without the rest. Thus it creates very complex views of the political system, of the relations with many of these NGOs, of how we see on one hand the dependence of these departments in international help while on the other how the people involved turn these acts of charity into a profitable project, while we have a third hand, and fourth and fifth, that tell us of the battles between idealism and discourse both on an outward, man-to-man level as on an personal one, the justifications of the necessity of international intervention, and how it is openly represented here the shortcomings of economic liberalism through the ever-expanding financial gap between classes, all the while being at the surface a character study instead of an openly political film. 

It’s because of the complexity of each character and each situation that the film is constantly leaving a lot of space with which to form your own interpretation and believe what one is saying or doing, or not.’ (algroth_1 Buenos Aires, review, 4 May 2012,


ist einer der seltenen in Deutschland realisierten Spielfilme mit internationaler, schwarzer und weißer Starbesetzung. Isaach de Bankolé (Chocolat von Claire Denis und Ghost Dog von Jim Jarmusch) und Eva Mattes treffen nur kurz aufeinander, bevor sich die Ereignisse überschlagen und der gesuchte Asylbewerber Otomo zwei Polizisten tötet und dann selbst durch Polizeischüsse fällt. Stuttgart sah nie so fremd aus, wie in Schlaichs Film-Remake einer wahren Begebenheit.

„Es ist mir schon aufgestoßen, dass in der gesamten Berichterstattung außer Spekulationen nichts über den Afrikaner zu erfahren war. So versuchte ich schon unmittelbar nach den Ereignissen, mehr über die Person des Täters herauszufinden. Was ich erfahren konnte war, dass   es einen fast 20 Jahre währenden Fluchtweg Otomos gab und dass er sich schon viele Jahre „in Orbit“ befunden hatte. Mit diesem Ausdruck bezeichnen die Flüchtlingsorganisatoren die Situation von Flüchtlingen, die zwischen den behördlichen Zuständigkeiten verschiedener Länder hin und her geschoben werden.
Das Projekt machte eine Entwicklung durch vom Dokumentarfilm über einen essayistischen Film hin zum Spielfilm. (Wir wollten) erreichen,   dass man um beide Seiten weint. Ziel war nicht, jemandem die Schuld für diese Situation zu geben, sondern den Weg hin zur Katastrophe aufzuzeigen. Über das Leben eines Asylsuchenden weiß man ja gar nichts und man bemüht sich auch nicht, darüber mehr zu erfahren.“

‘Otomo’ captures what problems can arise when a man, particularly a man of color, comes into a foreign land. The dual problem is the fact that the man may be oblivious to the new country’s problems – in Germany’s case, the growing pains of reunification, and the adopted country is unaware of what the immigrant dealt with in his homeland. The lead actor here is quite exceptional, and really carries the film. There is a scene where he gives a young girl a flower which reminds one of Boris Karloff in a similar scene from „Frankenstein.“ The film is arguably one of the best contemporary films from a white director about racism in this country. In short, ‘Otomo’ is a universal film and anyone who knows a recent Middle Eastern immigrant in the states knows how chillingly real the events that happened in this film can occure. And, since ‘Otomo’ is based on a true story that is a disturbing thought.
(Review by Tilly Gokbudak, 20 April 2004, Roanoke, Va.)


Absent Present
Im essayistischen Dokumentarfilm Absent Present geht es auch um eine Spurensuche, nach Benji, einem jungen Mann, der als Kind 1979 aus Namibia in die DDR gebracht worden war und dann, als die Mauer fiel und die DDR von der politischen Landkarte verschwand, auch selbst verschwand. Die Filmemacherin und Freundin des Verschollenen hat Footage aus den frühen 1990er-Jahren mit Benji verwendet und begibt sich nach Gran Canaria, Senegal, an Urlaubsstrände und in die Nähe von Abschiebelagern.

Benji was brought from Namibia to the GDR in 1979 as a young child and sent back in 1990 after German reunification. Angelika Levi got to know him there in 1991. Two years later, he hitchhiked back to Europe disguised as a tourist. But ‘in this film there is no main character. Benji, who should have been it, has disappeared,’ it is stated at the beginning of the movie. On her search for traces, Levi associatively links the story of the refugee with the stories of flight of those she meets underway. The journey leads from Germany to Namibia, to the Spanish mainland and the Canary Islands, all the way to Senegal. Without wanting to draw a geographical or political map, an essayistic documentary on the various forms of travelling emerges: vacation and migration, voluntary and forced return. (


Have you ever been a citizen of any country? Four films by Penny Siopis (Cape Town)

Films: My Lovely Day, 1997, 21’12“ // Pray, 2007, 3’1“ // Obscure White Messenger, 2010, 15’7“ // Communion, 2011, 5’30“ 

Penny Siopis, one of todays most influential artists in South Africa, started to work with 8mm film in 1997, at first with family stock, shortly after with found footage. Four films emerged from that work, visually and soundwize very elaborated pieces in which personal memory and fragments of an Apartheid history converge. Introduction by Cara Snyman (Johannesburg)


Boundaries  and Angles, Two films by Thenjiwe Nkosi

Thenjiwe Nkosi (Johannesburg) in conversation with Cara Snyman (Johannesburg).The artist Thenjiwe Nkosi (Johannesburg) speaks about her work and more specifically about her films.

Le Tchad: True Heart, 2008, 14’45“ explores the complexities of the author’s presence in Chad in 2008. A silently narrated travelogue notes events and asks questions of the author, finally revealing something about her and the ambiguity she feels about the place she has found herself in. (TN)

Border Farm, 2010, 32’10“ is a documentary about a group of Zimbabwean ‘border jumpers’ who make their way across the Limpopo River to seek work on farms in the far north of South Africa. Border Farm portrays the many-layered drama of forced migration and raises questions about national borders and their impact on individuals and communities. It is also a testament to the courage and inventiveness of a group of people living under the pressures of dislocation. The film is part of a larger project conceived by Thenjiwe Nkosi.


2014 – 1892 = 122 Years of Being, Brigitta Kuster, Research/Videos

Brigitta Kuster presents a few chapters of the ongoing video/research project Choix d’un passé – Traits d’union. The project, in collaboration with Moïse Merlin Mabouna, questions the legacy of Germany’s colonial operations in Cameroon. In 1892 chief Bisselé Akaba, Mabouna’s great grandfather, was captured, tortured, and killed in the course of one of the wars of colonial occupation. What started from audio/visual fragments of life within mobility in history becomes more and more manifest within a today’s transnational European space.
Erase them! – The image as it is falling apart into looks, 2013, 8’ // 2006-1892=114 ans/jahre, 2006, 7’, Loop (together with Moïse Merlin Mabouna) // À travers l’encoche d’un voyage dans la bibliothèque coloniale. Notes pittoresques, 2009, 25’ (together with Moïse Merlin Mabouna) // *Ndana! Ou bien: Fais comme l’arbre fruitier, quand on lui jette des pierres, il répond en laissant tomber ses fruits pour confondre celui ou celle qui l’attaque par le bas, 2014, ca. 30’ 


A Place for Space

With the last screening session of THE SPACE BETWEEN US we will celebrate the premiere of  the director’s cut of Veronika Gerhard’s short film Space Is the Place! , and Le président (2012, 63′) by Jean-Pierre Bekolo. Both films look for the transformative dynamics in today’s urban youth, be it the remake of Sun Ra’s futuristic film (1972) being relocated in today’s Berlin in a kanackfuturist setting or in Cameroon’s media and music subcultures, challenging political and economic restrictions.

SPACE IS THE PLACE! a kanakfuturist mystery ist ein partizipatives Kurzfilm- und Musikprojekt auf den Spuren von Blaxploitation und Science Fiction, das die

Le president, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 2012, 58’ English subtitles // Space Is the Place, Veronika Gerhard, 2013, 30’ 


The film program THE SPACE BETWEEN US  is curated by Marie-Hélène Gutberlet 

Many thanks to all the filmmakers and guests, distributors and right owners as well as Kino Arsenal and ifa-Gallery Berlin.

Vielen Dank allen Filmemachern und Gästen, Verleihern und Rechteinhabern sowie dem Kino Arsenal und der ifa-Galerie Berlin.