Images from the refugee crisis in 2015 are etched in our collective memory. A dead child on the beach. A Syrian who talks the German chancellor into joining in a selfie. A frightened boy being torn from a bus surrounded by a raging mob.
These snapshots represent dramatic moments from the time when nearly a million refugees entered Germany in the summer of 2015. In this documentary, the authors Bamdad Esmaili and Matthias Fuchs go in search of the stories behind the pictures. What really happened back then? Where are the people who were in them now? And how did their lives unfold after the summer when German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared in front of the television cameras to say, “We’ll manage this”?
Anas Modamani lives and studies in Berlin. In 2015, he photographed himself and the Chancellor together. “Through that ‘selfie.’ I found friends and learned the language,” he says. But the image didn’t just bring him good fortune. His likeness went viral and he was labelled a terrorist. Modamani took Facebook to court. The filmmakers also encounter volunteers from Munich’s main train station who handed out teddy bears back then. And they meet perfectly integrated refugees who love Bavarian food as well as others who have barely learned German even after five years. Again and again, Esmaili and Fuchs ask, “‘We’ll manage it.’ But did we really?” They also speak with the father and aunt of two-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned near the Turkish town of Bodrum.
Five years after the refugee crisis, it seems the world has changed yet somehow still remains the same. The situation on the border between Turkey and Greece has not eased and Europe still doesn’t have any workable solutions to the problem of how to process and distribute new refugees. Even now, in 2020, thousands of people are still hoping to make their way to Europe.
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