I was on a fishing boat when I lost track of time and space. The dark swallowed me and night turned into day. I didn’t know whether I was sick or healthy, dreaming or working, whether I was hallucinating or wide awake. I became one with the ocean and its creatures which I killed every day. Its ghosts followed me from above and beyond, from up and down, from inside the water, and inside the boat. I had met Leviathan.
Author: Toby Ashraf
Mansfeld is a small town in Saxony-Anhalt near the Harz Mountains. It has approximately 9,600 inhabitants and apparently Martin Luther spent a big part of his childhood there. Mansfeld used to be a mining town and has 15 different districts. I researched all of this because, quite frankly, I was sure that Mansfeld didn’t exist. Not only had I never heard of it before, but after watching Mario Schneider’s documentary film, I was convinced that this place, its people, and rituals existed only in the fantasy of their children and were nothing but a beautiful fiction.
The image of an abandoned church has high symbolical value. When the camera gets sight of the central aisle where people once prayed, we hear police sirens ring outside and discover big pools of rainwater on the floor, shimmering from the reflections of sunlight. Like in Tarkovsky’s Stalker, we seem to smell the decay of the post-apocalyptic, but are quickly reminded that we are still in the here and now.
It’s not easy to make a good documentary film about an artist. In the case of Evelyn Schels’ Georg Baselitz too little distance and too much admiration leave too little space for an unbiased audience approach. In the case of Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, we are basically watching Abramović perform herself, which makes Matthew Akers’ and Jeff Dupre’s film portrait an entertaining PR-vehicle for the artist, but not an original documentary film.
Seven years after the start of production, Miriam Faßbender’s documentary Fremd (Foreign) has finally been released in Germany. Faßbender portrays two men from West Africa who try to make their way from Mali to Europe. Being stuck in Morocco and Algiers for years, the prospect of going to Europe recedes into the distance. Fremd is a contemplative, yet highly political observation of patience and optimism in the face of despair. I met director Miriam Faßbender in Kreuzberg to talk about her film.