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Every year, outstanding projects are honored with the Culture and Creative Pilots award. This time, the focus was on one topic in particular: diversity. Three Berlin projects were honored in this context. Here they are.
The topics of diversity and inclusion are getting more and more attention in the social debate. But sensitizing people who, in the minds of many, are placed on the margins of society or are not even seen at all, does not happen on its own. It requires a new perspective, a fresh narrative, or even a (self-)critical wake-up call that puts a finger in the wound. With this in mind, this year's Cultural and Creative Pilots award highlighted three Berlin projects that make it their mission to make visible people who, for various reasons, are not seen or - even worse - are viewed with an eye of prejudice. We would like to introduce them briefly here.
Garcia Suka Arthur, a mother of three, was looking for stickers of a black Santa Claus for Christmas 2020 to, as she says, "brighten up the Christmas presents for the children." Garcia grew up in Berlin, but her roots are in Angola. Finding a black Santa, however, turned out to be more difficult than she thought. It was clear to her that she would not find something like that in German retail stores, she says in conversation. But she didn't find anything on the Internet either. She found stationery depicting black people on relevant sites in England, America and China, but not in Germany. Garcia decided to take action.
Because she lost her job in the pandemic, she suddenly had time to develop a business idea - her Made by Black Excellence business. She started making greeting cards, postcards, stickers and other stationery products at home and selling them online. She still had an old plotter machine with her, ordered vinyl paper and started crafting and printing. Soon, the orders started piling up. Today, Garcia therefore works with a manufactory. Some of the designs for her product illustrations, which include printed mugs, she has purchased commercially, while others she creates herself.
Even though she can't yet make a living from her online business, she struck a nerve with Made by Black Excellence. There are, she says, "two groups of reactions" to her idea. One group is made up of people affected by her idea, collectively known by the acronym BIPoCs (Black People, Indigenous People and People of Color), who enthusiastically welcomed her initiative. The others, she says, are people who suddenly had a light go on. Garcia has often had to experience discrimination herself. It started with insults in elementary school because of her black skin color and continued with repeated underestimation of her abilities. Underestimation of BIPoCs is a typical discrimination phenomenon related to distorted or false perceptions.
Garcia wants to help make BIPoCs more visible. She says that the topic of diversity is already being increasingly addressed in children's books. But there is still room for improvement in stationery and everyday utensils. If you go to the pharmacy and look for black plasters, you will hardly find anything. Not to mention purple ones!
Dalal Mahra wears a headscarf and is proud of it. The Berlin native has Palestinian roots and wants to "increase the visibility of Muslim women wearing headscarves" because she feels this is missing in the mainstream media. To do this, she invented Kopftuchmädchen - a multimedia format consisting of interviews, YouTube videos, a podcast, portraits on Instagram and networking meetings for Muslim women. The goal and purpose are always the same: to show the diversity of Muslim women, with and without headscarves. It's about empowerment, acceptance and diversity of these women, Dalal explains. Her multimedia format is therefore aimed predominantly at the target group of Muslim, German-speaking women between 25 and 35.
The idea for Kopftuchmädchen arose "out of a personal need," she says. It is no ones business, she says, "why a woman dresses the way she does," and "whether she dyes her hair blue or wears a headscarf." Now one could object that the headscarf also stands for the oppression of (Muslim) women. Dalal does not dispute these cases in principle, but emphasizes that as a woman wearing a headscarf, one is automatically forced into a burden of proof. You have to prove that you are not being oppressed. This can lead to absurd experiences. Dalal herself had to make such an experience. When she was training to be a hairdresser's apprentice, she decided to wear a headscarf. Her boss, however, did not agree and threatened her with dismissal, which made Dalal relent. She decided not to wear the headscarf so that she could finish her training.
Dalal currently runs her medium alone and works full-time as an educational consultant in political education. With Kopftuchmädchen, she gives a voice to women who are strongly afflicted with prejudices and clichés. Because headscarves can also be gaudy.
JÜNGLINGE Film, that's Faraz Shariat, Paulina Lorenz and Raquel Kishori Dukpa. The Berlin-based film and television production company takes a somewhat different look at social issues. Away from common narratives or those that flatter the audience, away from the mainstream. In a pop-cultural manner, productions are realized that revolve around the themes of identity and community. The claim is to use an unabashedly feminist, anti-racist and queer approach to tell unusual stories and provide a platform for people and perspectives that otherwise receive little attention in the social sphere. It's about radical honesty.
The production team also appears as filmmakers themselves. The film Futur Drei (directed by Faraz Shariat) is an autofictional coming-of-age story about Parvis, a second-generation German-Iranian who has to do community service in a refugee shelter. There he meets the Iranian refugee Amon and his sister Banafshe and begins an affair with Amon. The film combines the themes of migration, refugee life and homosexuality in a playful narrative. Faraz Shariat and Paulina Lorenz co-wrote the screenplay. The debut film was shown for the first time at the Berlin Film Festival in 2020 and was highly praised by critics.
JÜNGLINGE Film not only produce films and write screenplays, they also offer anti-discriminatory consulting in all areas of production: from development to screenplay to casting and all other production processes. The basic maxim always remains to find new, fresh narratives on marginal social issues. Because film & TV not only depict realities, they also create them. They shape self-images and visions of how and in which society we want to live. By telling and producing in a way that is critical of discrimination, the JÜNGLINGE want to contribute to broadening our view of people outside our own comfort zone.
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