Brazilian film director and visual artist Karim Aïnouz has been an acknowledged name in the branch of the film industry for over 26 years. His new, richly detailed and omnipresent film ‘Central Airport THF’ had International Premiere at CPH:DOX this year. The center point of this exquisitely observed film from a modern Babylon – is the closed-down airport Tempelhof in Berlin, which today is home to migrants, such as 18-year-old Ibrahim, living their life in a German limbo. There is hope, warmth and humour in Aïnouz’s superbly observed film, which with a compassionate eye for both the big picture and the smallest details takes stock of the European refugee crisis and which will surely leave its own impression on our collective understanding of it.
What triggered your inspiration to make the documentary?
At the time, in the summer of 2015, there was a lot of media coverage on the newly arrived but in general, the image that was conveyed was often of crowds of people arriving in Europe And I wanted to know the individual stories. I was interested in portraying how the people arriving were coping with living in this place, how they were interacting, what were they expecting. By following one character I was hoping to not only create an intimate portrait but also for creating a counter shot of the way the situation was covered by mainstream media,
But there was also the fact of Tempelhof, this airport that had been built in the Third Reich as a military airport and that now had become a shelter and a public park. In brief I think the theme of reinventing, recycling, re-imagining the past to imagine the future was the central one.
How would you describe the work process when shooting the film?
It was not simple. At the beginning there was a lot of TV and newspapers and journalists in the shelter. When the cabins were built there were pictures all of the German media. So when I first exchanged with them the idea of documenting their daily life there the answer was no, no way. They were tired of cameras and reporters. So it took me about six months of going there and meet people and build trust. There was no crew or no camera during those months, just me going there about once a week and meeting with people, taking notes talking to not only the inhabitants of the hangars but also to the social workers. I had to be patient as they were patient. This time also allowed me to understand that a big part of the film should be about waiting, waiting in an airport, but a discontinued airport.
And then we started shooting six months later, in July of 2016. Wee spent about a year shooting. We shot about three to four days a month, every month. Tempelhof is very close to my house so it was great to also be engaging with something that happens in your neighborhood, something very close. We were three, sometimes four in the crew.
It was this small crew that also allowed us to document the routine of the shelter. And to get close to the characters. They got used to us and they opened up to us. And as we kept coming back we got closer and closer to Ibrahim, the main character of the film.
Your film is one of 12 films nominated in CPH:DOXs main competition Dox:Award 2018, what are your thoughts and expectations about that?
I am huge fan of CPH:DOX. It is a festival that celebrates expanded cinema, it is a forum that sheds light not only in documentaries on the traditional sense of the world, but in nonfiction cinema. I think CPH:DOX has inspired a whole generation of filmmakers. It has also been a vital place for the questioning of what it is a documentary, and it has triggered a lot of interesting work, it has championed films that are original and politically relevant, in a very unique way. And for those reasons and more I am very proud that our film has been invited to the festival, and particularly to the main competition. It makes me want to make more documentaries, it makes me want to push the boundaries of filmmaking, and to break boundaries in general. We are living a very very exciting time in the realm of audio visual practices. And we are living very dark times politically in the world. Nothing beats the real, for the better and worst. And to capture it, to interpret it and to render it visible in a unique way is one of main features of the festival, so just to be here and exchange with other filmmakers and audiences about these possible ways to interpret reality is already very energizing.
Thu. 22/03, 14:20, Dagmar, Tickets
Sat. 24/03, 19:00, Dagmar, Tickets