As he did
just over a year ago with his film "I.D. – Without Colors" (HERE), the Berlin-based
Italian photographer, Riccardo Valsecchi, who is also a member of the Berlin
chapter of Shoot4Change, shows that problems that African-Americans face in
this country on a daily basis are not unique to this country.
In "I.D – Without Colors," he
dealt with the racial profiling of black and people of color in Germany, and now, with his new film, "Schwarzkopf BRD," Valsecchi tells the story of a group of kids from various
immigrant backgrounds who attend the Jugendtheaterbüro Moabit (a youth theater
workshop in the inner city neighborhood of Morbit in Berlin) – who “supported
by their own experiences as victims of racism, they decide to stage a piece
about the history of US Civil Rights Movement in order to understand how to
react and to survive against the racial brutality of German police and society.”
the filmmaker, racism is, not surprisingly, an unspoken and unresolved issue in Germany, and, even worse there has been "a strong revival of right wing racist theories
have begun to emerge in the past few years. Most recently it has been
discovered that German Secret Service was involved in financing and hiding a
neo-Nazi trio (NSU) who killed 10 innocent citizens with Turkish background in
the last decade."
In addition, German
police officers were involved in the death of Oury Jalloh, an asylum seeker
from Sierra Leone, who died, burned alive, while he was tied on a mattress in a police
cell in Dessau in 2005, and they have been involved in the deadly shootings of several African-Germans
The police continue to target the so-called “Schwarzkopfer” (black heads), which
some call people with non-Aryan ethnicity, and tensions have risen to a boiling point, resulting in riots in Altona, a borough in Hamburg, last August.
So in October 2013, Valsecchi was invited by
the theater workshop, originally to shoot a series of educational short
movies in order to show to potential victims, or witness how to react in front
of the practice of racial profiling by German police. However, he was so taken
by the group, and the work, as they developed the theater piece to something even
larger and more complex that he "fell in love immediately with the project as
well as the atmosphere inside the group and followed them, almost every day,
for the next three months, until the premiere at the Haus der Kulturen der
Welt, the most prestigious artistic location in Berlin."
He says that
it was the most intense and emotional project that he has ever worked on, as he watched and filmed teenagers struggle, not only with the racism of the external society, but also with their own
religious and ethnic differences.
will make its premiere at the Festiwalla 2014 in Berlin, in November, and hopefully
will be screened in other countries as well, including the U.S. But unfortunately, as Valsecchi learned with his previous
film, "I.D. -Without Colors," his new film will be ignored by the German media and
other festivals unless it wins some awards as "ID" did. But he adds sadly as well that
Germany you are not allowed to talk about racism, especially if you are a
foreign; this is the reason while it will be my last work there and I am not
living there anymore.”
But he also says, hopefully, that “ I strongly believe, especially in
these days, with all the bad news coming from Ferguson, that if politicians and
parties are not able to understand that we cannot tolerate anymore to live in a
racial society–that there are people discriminated by laws and by educational
systems, arts and culture may be a way
to build an international bridge against racism."