Sudan at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)

The 69th Berlinale has presented nine Sudanese movies produced between 1964 and 2019:

„Khartoum Offside“, 2019, by Marwa Zein El Abdin Seed Ahmed Fadl Arbab, is a documentary about putting together a Sudanese football team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The movie is a cinematic proof of the power of friendship. Film director Marwa Zein deconstructs stereotypical perceptions of her country.

„Khartoum Offside“ is her 1st long documentary film produced by her own production company based in Khartoum. Since 2014, Marwa Zein (born 1985 in Mecca) is also working as a film programmer for the Sudan Independent Film Festival.

„Talking about Trees“, 2019, by Suhaib Gasmelbari Mustafa, is a documentary about the history of the Sudanese cinema, the love of cinematography and the passion for restoring old Sudanese films and presenting them to the audience.

Suhaib Gasmelbari Mustafa (born 1979 in Omdurman) studied cinema in France where he pursued an education in cinema history, criticism and directing. He also gained expertise in areas of graphic design, special effects, and broadcasting. Nevertheless, his main focus remains the true Cinema. He has completed short narrative films before finishing his documentary „Talking about Trees“.

„Of Dust and Rubies“, 2000, by Hussein Shariffe, is a film on suspension which undertakes a cinematic interpretation of a selection of contemporary Sudanese poetry.

For many years, Hussein Shariffe (born 1934 in Omdurman), together with his intimate cast and crew, was filming across Egypt. After his death, he left five hours of footage of this film.

Talal Afifi, a film producer and director of the Sudan Film Factory in Khartoum, travelled to Berlin to present the screening of footage of the movie „Of Dust and Rubies“.

„The Station“, 1989, by Altayeb Mahdi, shows how people cross the desert on foot or cover long distances by car and truck. It presents encounters at one of the large crossroads between the capital Khartoum in the centre of the country and Bur Sudan on the Red Sea.

„The Tomb“, 1977, by Altayeb Mahdi, tells the story of a man who claims to be able to heal people.

Altayeb Mahdi (born 1951 in Omdurman) is a multi-award-winning filmmaker. He graduated with a degree from the Higher Institute of Cinema in Cairo in 1976. He has produced film music for several internationally award-winning films and was the head of the Sudanese Film Group for a number of years. The author of numerous articles on cinema for major Sudanese newspapers. He is currently working on the feature film „The Lantern and Darkness“.

„Camel“, 1985, by Ibrahim Shaddad, is a report from the life of a camel, most of which plays out in a dreary, small room – a sesame mill.

„The Rope“, 1981, by Ibrahim Shaddad, documents two blind men making their way through the desert accompanied by a donkey. Connected by a rope, sometimes the two men decide the way, and sometimes the donkey leads them through the desert.

„Hunting Party“, 1964, by Ibrahim Shaddad, is a treatise on racism. The movie was shot in a forest in Brandenburg, East Germany. It uses the Western film genre to portray the hunt for a Black man. It is the first Sudanese-German Western movie.

Ibrahim Shaddad (born 1945 in Halfa) studied at the German Film University in Babelsberg. He has written and directed many films and some plays. He is a founding member of the Sudanese Film Group and a member of the editorial board of the magazine Cinema.

„It Still Rotates“, 1978, by Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour, depicts the everyday life in a school in South Yemen. It is a master piece about the longings of people and a highlight of the Film Festival.

Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour (born 1947 in Omdurman) studied Folklore, African and Asian Studies at the University of Khartoum and film at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow. He is a founding member of the Sudanese Film Group and a member of the editorial board of the magazine Cinema.

The reception at the audience in Berlin of all movies mentioned above was widely positive. Tickets were sold out, long applauses after the movies took place and discussions with the film makers at the movie theatre after each screening were joined by many people.

It was a unique occasion for the audience in Germany to get in touch with contemporary and retrospective cinematography of Sudan.

The Sudanese movies at the 2019 edition of the International Berlin Film Festival prove that Sudan is on of the pioneers of movie productions in Africa and has an enormous potential of creativity.

Seven of the nine movies were restorations by Arsenal, the Berlin based Institute for Film and Video Art which digitally restored the works by the the Sudanese Film Group in 2018.

During the late seventies and early eighties, a group of filmmakers who were then the staff of the Cinema Section at the Department of Culture issued a periodical named CINEMA.

This same group then founded the Sudanese Film Group in April 1989 to give them more independence from the state. The purpose of the group was to be fully engaged in all aspects of film production, screening, and teaching, as well as maintaining the passion of the Sudanese for the cinema.

During a panel discussion about the Sudanese Film Group at the Berlin Film Festival, Ibrahim Shaddad said: „Right now my priority is not to shot new movies. My priority is to re-opening cinema houses in Sudan. I am fighting that there are more cinema houses instead of more movie productions. Because you need the cinema houses to present the movies to the people. It does not make sense to make new movies if you cannot show them to the audience.“

After the world premier of her movie „Khartoum Offside“ at the Berlinale, Marwa Zein raised the questions: „How can I show my film in Sudan?“

But even in Germany „Khartoum Offside“ did not find a film distributor yet.

Merkel stepping down may become turning point in Germany

The step down of Angela Merkel will become a political turning point in Germany. Merkel has welcomed around one million migrants to Germany since 2015. Her humanitarian commitment was merciful. Now Merkel’s party CDU will shift right – closer to AFD.

Today, chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not seek re-election as chairwoman of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December. She also said she would not stand again as chancellor candidate, nor as a candidate for the Federal parliament Bundestag, and she would not seek any further political offices.

Merkels stepping down marks a turning point in German politics. Her decision becomes the beginning of a new political era in Germany after Merkel will have served as a chairwoman of the Christian Democrats for 18 years and as a chancellor of Germany for 16 years.

Yesterday, the CDU and its Federal coalition partner Social Democrats (SPD) lost around 23 points at the Hesse State elections compared with the last Hesse vote in 2013. The Social Democrats suffered a historical drop, claiming 19.8 percent of the vote — the party’s worst result in Hesse since 1946. Merkel’s Federal ally Christian Social Union (CSU) suffered its worst election result since 1950 at Bavaria State elections two weeks ago.

Merkel’s CDU, her ally CSU and her coalition partner SPD are now all considered to become major parties in transition. Germany’s party system is under way to become more influenced by minor parties. The Greens, the Liberals, the Left and the Right will become more important.

Today, the anti-migration and anti-Islam political party Alternative for Germany (AFD) has 188 lawmakers in the German State assemblies, 94 lawmakers in the Bundestag and seven lawmakers in the European Parliament. In conclusion, the AFD has 289 lawmakers elected by the people of Germany. This is a massive political shift to the far-right in Germany.

I have admired Merkel for her open borders policy. In 2015, Germany accepted around one million refugees during what Merkel described as ‘extraordinary’ circumstances. Merkel said refugees would be welcomed and she was highly respected by foreign states for her humanitarian commitment.

Merkel was often called „the mother of the nation“ in Germany. I am calling Merkel the mother of refugees. This humanitarian commitment would not have happened without Merkel and her decision to open the borders..

Mr Friedrich Merz is seeking election as CDU party chair in December. Since 2016, Mr Merz is the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BlackRock Germany.

CSU party chairman Horst Seehofer has always been the political opponent against Merkel’s open borders policy.

AFD party chairman Alexander Gauland said that Chancellor Merkel’s misguided refugee policy would be a gift to the AfD.

In my eyes, the combination of a Seehofer-led CSU, a Gauland-led AFD and a supposed Merz-led CDU is not a good assumption for migrants in Germany because they do not have a strong political party that protects them. If AFD would rule Germany in a coalition with the conservative parties CDU and CSU, then migrants will most probably If AFD would rule Germany in a coalition with the conservative parties CDU and CSU, then migrants will most probably suffer a setback.

Around 20 million migrants live in Germany. Around five million of them are Muslims. No Muslim or Migrant party has a lawmaker in a parliament wether on State level nor on Federal level nor on European level. When Merkel leaves office, it is the right time for the first lawmaker of a Muslim or Migrant party to advocate minority rights in Germany.

„Your native country is waiting“ says this T-Shirt

4. Polizeieinsatz während des Gedenkens an Nidal Rabih

Heute ist der 40. Todestag des Palästinensers Nidal Rabih, der im Beisein seiner Kinder und Ehefrau durch mehrere Attentäter mit acht Schüssen ermordet wurde. Anstatt mit aller Kraft nach den Tätern zu fahnden, behelligte die Polizei bereits vier Mal die trauernden Hinterbliebenen mit Polizeieinsätzen.

Thousands attend funeral of Nidal Rabih

Tatsächlich geschah es heute bereits zum vierten Mal, daß sich Familie Rabih nach Nidals Ermordung durch die Polizei gestört fühlte.

Das erste Mal fühlte sich Familie Rabih gestört durch den großen Polizeieinsatz während Nidals Beerdigung auf dem islamischen Friedhof in Berlin.

Das zweite Mal fühlte sich Familie Rabih gestört durch den Polizeieinsatz während der Übermalung von Nidals Wandbild am Tatort des Attentats.

Das dritte Mal fühlte sich Familie Rabih gestört durch den Polizeieinsatz während ihres Protests gegen die aus ihrer Sicht zu langsam vorankommenden Ermittlungen. Letzten Sonntag blockierte die Polizei für Autos die einzige Straße, die zum Protest führte.

Das vierte Mal fühlte sich Familie Rabih gestört durch den heutigen Polizeieinsatz in der Moschee.

Bei Nidals Vater entsteht der Eindruck, die Polizei respektiere nicht die Trauer um seinen Sohn.

Nidals Vater Mahmud sagte heute zu den Polizisten: „Ich habe meinen Sohn verloren! Suchen Sie die Mörder meines Sohnes anstatt unser Gedenken an den Toten zu stören!“

Vor der Moschee standen weitere Polizisten, die von Mahmud Rabih kritisiert wurden für die noch nicht durchgeführte Verhaftung der Mörder.

Die Familie Rabih machte nichts anderes in der Moschee als gemeinsam das Nachmittagsgebet und verrichten und aus dem Edlen Quran zu lesen. Nichts anderes wurde getan in dieser Moschee.

Nidals Vater Mahmud saß neben einem Sheikh, der die Surah Al-Baqarah las und als mit den Trauernden die Bittgebete für Nidals Seelenheil sprach. Dann kamen zwei Polizisten in die Moschee und verlangten nach dem Sheikh. Weitere Polizisten waren vor der Moschee im Einsatz.

Die Polizisten in der Moschee fragten, ob für dieses Toten-Gedenken eine Genehmigung vorliege?

Seit wann brauchen Muslime für das Verrichten des Gebets und für das Lesen des Qurans eine Genehmigung? Seit wann kontrolliert die Polizei in einer Moschee?

Die Moschee ist ein Ort des Glaubens. An diesem Ort sollen Muslime ungestört ihren Glauben leben.

Respekt vor dem Glauben erwarte ich auch von der Polizei. Die Polizei soll die Religionsfreiheit schützen und nicht verletzen.

Lesen Sie auch meine anderen Artikel, die ich über Nidal Rabih geschrieben habe:

Gerechtigkeit für Nidal Rabih

Nidal-Wandbild übermalt

Tausende trauern am Grabe von Nidal Rabih

Neuköllner Bürgermeister unterdrückt Journalisten

German Foreign Minister reconsiders trip to Saudi-Arabia

Today, in relation to the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at a press conferece inside the State Department:

„Related to Saudi-Arabia, this incident is and stays worrying.

The accusations which came up are alarming and disturbing, I have to admit.

I told my counterpart in Saudi-Arabia very clear our expectations that this case has to be clarified completely.

Those that are responsible must be held accountable.

Therefore, we declared a statement at the last weekend during the G 3 meeting with France and UK.

Yesterday we also released a joint communique as G7 regarding this question. We made clear how worried we are.

We will follow very closely the results of the of the Turkish and Saudi joint investigation team.

We want to know what was happening.

As soon as we will know what was happening, we will execute the necessary consequences.

We will not accept that journalists become more and more into danger around the whole world because of their work. And this applies for Saudi-Arabia as well.

And regarding my travel plans to Saudi-Arabia: We had indeed planned a trip to Saudi Arabia in the context of the dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

We will wait on that now. The Saudi side plans a statement (on the affair), and we will use that as a basis for deciding whether a trip makes sense or not at the current time.“

Merkel soll im Bundestag über Khashoggi sprechen

Morgen wird Angela Merkel im Bundestag ihre Regierungserklärung abgeben. Ich erwarte von der Kanzlerin, daß sie morgen zum Mord an Jamal Khashoggi Stellung bezieht. Khashoggis Ermordung verlangt nach einer scharfen Reaktion der Bundesregierung.

Dieses unfassbare Verbrechen an Jamal Khashoggi ist nicht nur ein Mord, sondern ein Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit und gegen die Pressefreiheit.

Daher erwarte ich, daß Angela Merkel eine klare Haltung zum Fall Khashoggi einnimmt und Gerechtigkeit für Jamal Khashoggi einfordert.

Die Verantwortlichen für diese grausame Tat müssen zur Verantwortung gezogen werden.

Ich erwarte auch, daß sich der Bundestag morgen über die Rolle von Saudi-Arabien bei diesem Mordfall ausspricht. Die Abgeordneten sollten morgen über einen Abbruch der diplomatischen Beziehungen zu Saudi-Arabien und über einen sofortigen Stopp aller Waffenlieferungen nach Saudi-Arabien abstimmen.

Wenn Deutschland ab sofort keine Waffen mehr nach Saudi-Arabien liefern würde, könnte dies auch den Opfern des Krieges im Jemen zu Gute kommen.

Während der Aussprache müsste daher auch die Rolle von Saudi-Arabien beim Krieg im Jemen beleuchtet werden.

Merkel must demand accountability for Saudi Arabia’s behavior

This morning, Turkish and Saudi teams that were investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after a nine-hour search of the building.

CNN says that Saudi Arabia was preparing a report that would acknowledge Mr
Khashoggi was killed „as the result of an interrogation that went wrong“. The Saudi government did not yet comment.

If Mr Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate, it would be a homicide and a crime against humanity as well as against the freedom of the press.

Defending the freedom of expression and a free press and ensuring the protection of journalists must be key priorities for Germany. These human rights were presumably violated by Saudi-Arabia.

Therefore, I ask Angela Merkel for demanding accountability for Saudi Arabia’s behavior. Chancellor Merkel must act now on behalf of the German people who cannot accept the commitment of such a crime.

An international investigation of the supposed crime must be ongoing. There are many questions to investigate:

  • Why one might need a tactical team of 15 Saudis, flown into Turkey and armed with saws, to conduct an interrogation? This might sound much more like a premeditated murder.
  • How could on 1) interrogate, 2) torture, 3) kill and 4) dismember a person in less than two hours if one didn’t intend to do it?
  • According to media reports, the alleged perpetrators arrived in a private jet and commercial planes, stayed in two different hotels, travelled in seven cars and left the country the same day. Doesn’t it seem to be well organized in advance?

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will have dinner with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after meeting with King Salman in Riyadh, according to reporters traveling with him, to discuss the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi.

The riyal sunk to a two-year low of 3.7526 against the U.S. dollar. The supposed killing of Mr Khashoggi on 2 October 2018 could hurt foreign investment in Saudi Arabia and sanctions my be imposed as long as Saudi Arabia does not hold accountability for its behavior.

Actor Gerard Butler said he canceled an upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia because it felt like an “incredibly insensitive” time to visit.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mr Butler said once his team was informed of what was happening, “it just didn’t feel like a good time to be getting involved. It just didn’t seem like a situation that we would want to get into and as that situation hasn’t concluded, and there are no definite answers, and it’s not for me to be coming up with solutions.“

Bavaria election marks crisis of major parties

It is a further erosion of Germany’s political mainstream. Former major party SPD got only 9,7 % of the votes. CSU suffered their worst election result since 1950 and is now considered to be a major party in transition.

This election indeed marks a crisis of major parties. Minor parties as the Greens (17,5 %) and Free Voters (11,6 %) are benefiting from the crisis of major parties.

Free Voters have won votes where CSU has lost them. Free Voters are strong in the countryside. They were established in communities and villages as secessions of the CSU. Free Voters became CSU’s most likely coalition party.

The outcome of Bavaria state elections shows a trend for Germany. Germany’s whole party system is under way to become more influenced by minor parties.

Bavaria election is also a further shift to the far-right. The far-right is pleased about 21,8 % as both right-wing parties Free Voters got and AFD of the votes.

AFD (10,2 %) is now in 16 of 17 assemblies on Federal and on State level. In two weeks the State election of Hesse will take place. ADF will have entered all 17 assemblies on Federal and State level.

Economically the outcome will not affect Turkey because both Bavaria and Germany are still interested in growing trade relations and direct investments between the countries.

But refugee politics in Germany might become more difficult because AFD and Free Voters are both for restrictions against migration.

Also religions and foreigners politics may become more difficult because AFD wants to restrict the rights of Muslims in Bavaria state as well as in whole Germany.

Merkel’s position is considerably weakened by the outcome of this election. Voters had lost trust in both Bavarian State government and in Merkel’s federal government.

Bavaria election raising tensions in Berlin. 1) The outcome will stoke infighting in the faction of the conservative parties at Federal Parliament „Bundestag“. 2) The outcome will stoke infighting within the governmental coalition of the Christian Unions and the Social Democrats.

How did the Greens become successful in Bavaria?

The Greens are the big winner in Bavaria election. The Greens come second after CSU.

The Greens have started as left-wing oriented in the late 70s and 80s, they became more central oriented in the 90s and liberal in the late 90s. Now they are even partly conservative. In March 2011 (two weeks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster had begun), the Greens made large gains in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and in Baden-Württemberg. In Baden-Württemberg they became the senior partner in a governing coalition for the first time. Since 2011, Winfried Kretschmann is the first Green to serve as Minister-President of a German State. The Greens of Bavaria are mostly central oriented.

At the ballot box in Bavaria,

1) the Greens were benefiting from urbanization. 1.5 million Germans moved to Bavaria from other states in the past ten years. In urban areas, the Greens got more than 30 % of the votes. In Bavaria, the first vote allows the elector to vote for a direct candidate who applies for a direct mandate in the assembly. For the first time, the Greens got five direct mandates in Munich.

2) the Greens were benefiting from their protest agains the new Bavarian police task act. In May, Bavaria’s state legislature passed a controversial law expanding police powers in Bavaria. Citizens now can be arrested for three months without the verdict of a judge. Greens attacked the bill as draconian and warned it could become a blueprint for expanded police powers across Germany. Greens were among the organizers of biggest Munich protest in years against this hard-line CSU police bill.

3) the Greens were benefiting from their ecologist campaigns against nuclear power energy and against impervious surfaces.