Filmmaking in Exile

– A collaboration between DOK.fest München and Goethe-Institut in Exile


SHAHID © DOK.fest München


What does exile mean for the artistic creative process? The five films in the Filmmaking in Exile series differ greatly in their narrative and approach, but the directors have one thing in common: they can no longer return to their home countries.

In BELARUS 23.34, director Tatsiana Svirepa shows the consequences of repression which the protesters in Minsk were subjected to in 2020. She now lives in Lodz, Poland, after fleeing to Ukraine. In CHASING THE DAZZLING LIGHT, Yaser Kassab, who is working on the film together with his father, who has remained in Syria, shows us in sensitive images what separation and being alone in exile does to family relationships. In her essayistic film MY STOLEN PLANET, Iranian filmmaker Farahnaz Sharifi shows the joy of life in Tehran in the 1970s in contrast to the continuous oppression of women by today‘s hardline regime. Munich-based Kurdish-Alevi director Bahar Bektaş takes a very personal approach in EXILE NEVER ENDS – she has to face the question of what will happen to her own family after her brother is to be deported from Germany to Turkey after more than 30 years. And with SHAHID, Iranian director Narges Kalhor, who also lives in Munich, explores the boundaries between fiction and documentary film. In her film, she recounts the attempt to change her own surname.

The Goethe-Institut in Exile was founded in October 2022 as a project space in Berlin: its aim is to continue to support and provide a platform for cultural practitioners from countries where the Goethe-Institut can no longer be active. In addition to artistic program formats, activities focus on networking with various cultural scenes, as well as further education and community work.

Marc-André Schmachtel

The films

Belarus/Denmark/Poland/Ukraine 2023, Tanya Svirepa, 65 min., Original version with English subtitles

Full of strength and hope, millions of people take to the streets after the sham election in Belarus. The pictures of women “armed” with flowers being confronted by police with batons went around the world. BELARUS 23.34 uncovers the state’s brutal actions against the peaceful demonstrators who have only one demand: for the regime to finally clear the way for democracy.


Sweden 2023, Yaser Kassab, 63 min., Original version with English subtitles

Like his father in the 1980s, Yaser Kassab emigrated from Syria to Europe to become a filmmaker. Despite their physical separation, they work together on a film project via telephone and video calls. CHASING THE DAZZLING LIGHT draws a moving portrait of the relationship between father and son and reveals Kassab’s profound loneliness as he is separated from his family and finds it challenging to make a new start.


Germany 2024, Bahar Bektas, 100 min., Original version with English subtitles

“The longing for your homeland never goes away,” says the filmmaker Bahar Bektaş. Her brother is in prison in Germany. He is supposed to be deported and is waiting for the early transfer to Turkey he has requested. Because there seems to be no end to the waiting, Bahar turns her camera on her Alevi Kurdish family and examines the consequences of being uprooted.


Germany/Iran 2024, Farahnaz Sharifi, 82 min., Original version with English subtitles

As early as 8 March 1979, shortly after the Islamic revolution, Iranian women protested against the compulsory wearing of headscarves. MY STOLEN PLANET acts as a reminder of their on-going struggle for freedom and the discrepancy between private and public life. Archive images, Super-8, VHS and mobile phone footage document personal acts of resistance and joie de vivre that call out for “Woman! Life! Freedom!”.


Germany 2024, Narges Kalhor, 84 min., Original version with English subtitles

​​Nomadic cinema that tells marvellous stories. What if your surname Shahid means martyr, incorporates generations of political traumas and seems to be getting in the way of your future? Are the hurdles bureaucratic or personal? Which are your own and which belong to others? SHAHID is an artistically interwoven film about a post-migrant family history and about the freedom to transcend genre boundaries in filmmaking.

The films at the festival

You can see the films of the series Filmmaking in Exile at the 39th DOK.fest München:

2 to 12 May 2024 at the Munich venues
6 to 20 May 2024 online @home throughout Germany