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Contemporary debates, German Film

German-Afghan Film Stirs Debate

Burhan Qurbani is not the first German film student to have a feature length film

shown at the Berlin film festival “Berlinale”. But he is the first German film student who originally hails from Afghanistan and whose film, “Shahada”, addresses the role of Islamic faith in the lives of three young protagonists.


Released at a time when German conservatives rekindle anti-islamic sentiments, Qurbani’s film attracts attention at home and abroad, as the NYT’s article demonstrates.

BERLIN — It has been many years since a German film student had a feature-length movie shown at the prestigious Berlinale, a

distinction that can launch a career. That is what Burhan Qurbani is enjoying at the moment, with his film “Shahada.”

But rising fame can be double-edged, as Mr. Qurbani, 29, now understands, as his native country casts a critical eye on his work, and his life. He suddenly realizes that he is a foreigner at home,

and that his audience sees him as an Afghan immigrant who made a movie about Islam, not as a talented German filmmaker who chose to explore issues common to all mankind.

“I’m seen as the Afghani who made the fil

m about integration, and that hurts a little,” he said the other day, sitting at an outdoor cafe and smoking one hand-rolled cigarette after another.

Read more.



About GG

Gundolf Graml is Associate Prof. and Dir. of German Studies at Agnes Scott College. He has a Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Minnesota and has published articles on German and Austrian film and tourism. He is currently writing a book about tourism and Austrian national identity after 1945. Other research projects include critical whiteness studies and, most recently, investigations into the connection between memory and nature. At ASC, Gundolf Graml teaches courses on a broad range of topics, from German 101 to German and Austrian Cinema and Afro-German History and Culture.


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