People collecting recyclable bottles on the streets of Berlin are a common sight. It’s also common knowledge that if you’re too lazy to return your bottles you don’t throw them in the trash can but put them at the side for collectors to get at them more easily. During the summer, picnickers, revellers and sunbathers often have their empty bottles ready for the inevitable person who wanders around parks and open places, carrying a big plastic bag or a trolley filled with bottles in the hope of making a few Euros for their troubles – a single bottle usually being worth between eight and 25-cents when returned. The understanding between those who have enough and those who make a living from the waste of others often strikes me as unique and without trying to romanticise the situation, can bring an element of dignity to the situation of poverty.
Like a fly in slow motion the camera moves and moves and moves, in constant search for new impressions, new images, new discoveries, new moods to capture. The camera eye takes its time, like the entire film does, and takes us, the audience, deep into an unreal world which is created through the mind and the memory of its filmmaker and cameraman Marcin Malaszczak.
„Screw you world, we don’t need you, we’ll just make art!“ Bosaina is in tears after she has performed the song „Porn Police“ with her band Wetrobots at a nightclub in Cairo. She is wearing a leopard leotard and ironically sang about „satanic homosexuals“ and the sexual freedom of women when the crowd starting chanting „Erhal, erhal, erhal!“ which means „Go away!“ Bosaina, like the four other main protagonists of Art War, is trying to express herself creatively in Egypt during the difficult times that followed the Arab Spring. Her struggle and the verbal and physical fights of young Egyptian artists build the centre of a fast-paced and jazzy documentary that has been in Berlin cinemas for a week.
Welcome to Germany, foreigner! We like to call you “Ausländer”, because we find it very important to stress that you are from a country that is not ours. Our politicians create words like „Armutszuwanderung“ (poverty migration) to underline that you might be poor and needy, expecting Germany to help you. If you’re from Bulgaria or Romania, we mock your migration with expressions like „Sozialtourismus“ (social tourism) to make the nation aware that you only come here to profit from our social system. If your skin is black, we will ask you where you are really from, no matter if you were born here or if you are a war refugee. And, oh yeah, black man, be prepared for a large scale police operation on the subway if they find you without a ticket. You might be late for your meeting with the Senate.
Ursúla Guðmundsson likes to polish her nails. She says it’s important because her hands are very precious to her. We watch her carefully apply the polish on her 80-something year-old hands and we realise that she is trying to match the pink with her lipstick and her outfit. When Ursúla was a young woman, her hands bled from the manual labour she did and hurt from the washing powder she used to handwash the clothes of 13 people every week. Ursúla Guðmundsson was born Ursula Quade and emigrated from Germany to Iceland after the Second World War. She is one of six enigmatic older women that director Heike Fink portrays in a beautiful film that talks about a little known part of German migration.