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.
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.