“Camera?” – “We’re rolling!” – “And… action!”
It’s not something you see every day. A pretty young girl with long, dark hair is sitting in the Cosy Corner of Vienna House Easy Berlin and is being interviewed by a goblin in a red cape and mask. On the stage: Sofia Bolotina, a fifteen-year-old from Hamburg with Russian roots, and Joh, the naughty little hotel troll. But Sofia knows how to parry Joh’s cheek with charm and professionalism. After all, she is a successful actress who has already held a leading role alongside German actor Wotan Wilke Möhring. 12,000 fans follow her on Instagram.
Sofia is in Berlin with the crew from Hamburg Media School to shoot a short film that takes place in the turmoil of the Syrian Civil War. For the five days of shooting, Vienna House is her home base.
It’s hard to imagine that, just one day before, the young girl in jeans and white top was Asifa, a Syrian teenager fighting her way through the chaos and destruction of war – dirty, frightened and distraught, but fearless. And completely on her own. Her goal is a safe future, peace. Under the cloak of darkness, she moves by night. During the day, she finds shelter in empty, shot-up housing blocks. There she meets the little Sema (played by Chahrazad Aryadi), who lives alone in an abandoned apartment on the other side of the street, inhabiting a non-existent dream world full of green plants and an imaginary rabbit.
The camera is rolling. “And… action!” Asifa feels her way along the wall, her long hair hidden beneath a dusty cloth. Startled by a sudden loud bang, she takes cover in a doorway. Crouching low, she scans the façade on the other side of the street. Is there a sniper there? An enemy? But there’s nothing to see. With one hand, she carefully pushes open the door and hides in the shot-up building… It’s a wrap!
This is the opening scene to Fensterfront, a collaborative project by Lynn Bauer (direction), Philip Matousek (camera), Lena Fakler (screenplay) and Philipp Haeberlin (production). Together with their 30-member team, the four film students found the “ideal filming conditions”, as Philipp Haeberlin says, in a run-down building complex deep in eastern Berlin. Their Hamburg Media School has just won the “Student Oscar” from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts in Los Angeles for the short film Watu Wote by young director Katja Benrath. That makes the participants in the Berlin shooting that much more ambitious.
Fensterfront ends in Germany, “where our responsibility for these children begins. These unaccompanied minor refugees come to us with their stories,” explains screenplay writer Lena Fakler. “And we want to tell a current story in a way that gives rise to hope.” As one of the film’s sponsors, Vienna House Easy Berlin is keeping its fingers crossed for the team from Fensterfront. And who knows: Maybe we’ll see Sofia and the Hamburg Media School at the Student Oscars next year. They certainly would deserve it.