The symbol of former Nazi grandeur, the central airport of West Berlin during the Wall, Tempelhof has today become a temporary asylum for 2000 refugees, accommodated into its hangars. The Wall is replaced by a fence, dividing their enclosed world from the outside world. Chaos and harmony. The latter is reserved for Berliners and tourists, who, on its runways, ride the stupid Segway, cycle, jog, fly kites, and have picnics during summer. For people from the hangars, this world is distant and inaccessible. Aïnouz spent a year with them, observing their insecurities, hopes, challenges with lack of personal space and administrative barriers. Young Ibrahim, who recollects his life in the pre-war Syria, takes on the role of the narrator. “When some of us spotted those old museum planes in front of the airport building, we though they were here to deport us back to Turkey or Syria”, he says. After he was granted refugee status for three and a half years, Ibrahim can finally leave that isolated world and walk out into “freedom”. This is why the noisy city within city becomes a mirror for Fortress Europe, caught between utopia and chaos.
Karim Aïnouz was born in Fortaleza, in 1966. He studied architecture in Brasilia, and film at the New York University. He was assistant director to Todd Haynes. His feature debut was Madame Satã. His most recent documentary, Central Airport THF, had its world premiere on this year’s Berlinale, where four years ago his feature film Praia do Futuro was also screened.