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Der Seiltänzer.

By Abd Alkader Alhag Fteah, Nick Stein and Azad Heydarov

In our film collaboration, we became reflexive in searching for archive materials to contribute commentary by reflecting on presented research about the digitalization of borders and migration. 

The film would tell the story of Syrian refugees traveling from Turkey to Germany to end their integration into the host society by the labor market. Indeed, the album we gathered from our research on available sources reminded us of the critical comments exchanged by summer school participants regarding the refugee protection crisis. Reproducing them would be horrible. Then at the end of the first week, we realized that especially people whose stories we were interested in, in their turn, were not interested in sharing them. No photos, no videos, no sounds. Only off-record narrative interviews. We do not have enough time to scrutinize why they don’t want to talk about their journey during school. Maybe they are tired of it? Maybe there are other reasons since they agree to talk without documentation. Is there any study about it? According our common understanding they have family in Syria and they don’t want to problem to them or put their life in risk.

Yes, we were also hopeful because our friend, Turkish filmmaker Faruk Bagkesen, was preparing to travel to Mardin on the Turkish-Syrian border for his research project. We agreed with him that he might send us some material if needed. We did not have another way than following “plan B,” turning the film into an experimental collaboration which meant composing it juxtaposing fictional scenes with critical and metaphorical elements together with what Faruk would send us. At the end of the first week, we met our colleague from the Doctoral College of Sociology, Ph.D. candidate Emrecan Alptekin. In a small workshop, he explained to Nick how to use a gimbal and a sound recorder to enrich our project’s audio and visual aspects, to then borrowing those tools.

Dissidents, especially later applicants for asylum seekers, were metaphorically described in a poem by Brodsky as dust insisting on continuing their existence in corners, dirt against broom blows. The dissident poet himself was forced later to depart his country. Our search for inspiration in this poem made us rethink again about people who are displaced because of their beliefs. Especially the ones who agreed to live in the harshest conditions; however, once thrown out by sudden force, they still had to go through many borders until finding a new host society. Afghans who believed future of their country and collaborated with Western allies are now potential heroes of that poem. The worse thing is that most of them won’t have any place to go.
We recorded our conversations about reflections on presented studies during the summer school, heard each other’s narrations or expectations from the collaboration several times, etc. On the one hand, we had Abdul’s expository narrative of refugee’s journey to Germany; on the other hand, Azad’s sometimes too experimental ideas. Nick was mediating juxtaposing of these two sources. 

At the beginning of the second week, Nick and Azad recollected their abandoned project with Faruk because of the arrival of Pandemic measures to Europe. It was a story of a migrant researcher traveling between Stuttgart, Wroclaw, and Sarajevo. He has already been cleaned from the map of his country of origin and still seeks a place to settle. Abdul agreed to work in this direction, and Faruk was generous to spend his time with us and share his archive, including editing skills. 
Currently, we are working on sharing with you our early collaboration. We will keep working on our film, which will be about crossing the border from Turkey to Germany with a narrative story about Syrian refugees, with collaboration between our Turkish filmmaker Faruk, Azad, Nick, and Abd ALkader (Abdul) has a lot of Syrian friends. Good things take time. Perhaps there will be new people who would like to join the project?

We are grateful to partake in this great opportunity to learn, develop, share ideas in our summer school Migration and border organized by the Viadrina Center B/Orders in Motion’s team. Our summer school participation helped us walk on the borders of the cinema art and social sciences with the prominent creative guidance of Linda and Florian and inspired us to begin a new journey with “der Seiltänzer.”


Working group of dissident dust

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