Residing in the Borderlands

For the third take of our new year-long, monthly film series Residing in the Borderlands, we are delighted to have with us Niusha Ramzani, a social worker and artist, but most importantly, a film enthusiast. Through her choice of films, she can’t help but wonder: What happens when a filmmaker in exile refuses to make what is expected of him, namely “exile” films? In Tagebuch eines Liebenden, the Iranian filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless tells a very “German” story, situated in West Berlin in the late 1970s, dealing with topics such as isolation, alienation, the questioning of the idea of “home”.

Bringing this film in dialogue with Mehrnaz Saed Vafa's documentary Sohrab Shahid Saless: Far From Home, we will seek traces of a filmmaker who lived and worked in Berlin for more than 20 years, but whose name has been forgotten not only by film history but also by the city itself. Niusha’s reasoning for choosing the films is further reflected in her questions: Who defines the national identity of a movie and what role can film-politics or a nation play on the legacy of a semi-stateless filmmaker? Is there a place that exceeds notions of “home” and “exile”? How could such a place form the aesthetics of a film?

Our monthly film series Residing in the Borderlands intends to create a new cartography of Berlin through diasporic perspectives. As part of our diasporic place-making, we explore different film worlds, considering both the visual and auditory. Through the cinematic experience, we aspire to reach another way of being present, thinking of film as a form of movement that can also propel us into previously unthought of futures.

NIUSHA RAMZANI is a humanities student, social worker and artist based in Berlin. Born and raised between Iran and Germany, she is particularly interested in third spaces that not only transgress the binaries of gender, culture and class, but also the ones of different disciplines.

Her own artistic practice encompasses a variety of media - including performance, video, drawing and writing – which, combined with her theoretical and social activities, provide her with a tool to make sense of an increasingly disturbing world. She spends a lot of time thinking about the subversive power of female body hair, exilic rituals of home-making and how poverty intersects with mental health. She has a secret passion for badass Qajari women and frequently indulges in speculative conversations with dead male artists. Her current project Searching for Saless: Stateless Images of Home, Exile and Nowhere is a semi-fictional investigation of the erased history and cinematic legacy of Iranian filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless in Berlin.