Meine Freiheit, Deine Freiheit screens on Monday, September 30 at 8pm at Lichtblick Kino.
Diana Näcke’s raw and honest documentary Meine Freiheit, Deine Freiheit opens the doors on the lives of two former Lichtenberg Women’s Prison inmates and heroin addicts and their struggle to live a regular life after their sudden release from prison. Early childhood experiences of violence as well as a history of drug abuse have moulded Salema Wad’Deres and Kübra Baytok, rendering them unable to blend into society. “This fucking freedom is tiring me out,” Salema mutters at one point before exclaiming, “I can’t go on!” The film is showing this Monday, September 30, at 8pm at Lichtblick Kino with English subtitles.
So there has been some news?
Salema’s daughter, whom she had to give up at age 12, contacted her! She had been looking for her mother for 10 years, unsuccessfully because Salema wasn’t registered anywhere. She gave up two years ago and then happened to come across the film. She lives in the States now.
It’s incredible that she found the film.
She just googled her mother’s name, just to see if something would come up, and the film did! She’d heard of it before, so she watched the trailer. She might have found her mother sooner or later but without the film, who knows?
Is it right that the women wanted you to do the film, not the other way around?
We have similar backgrounds and they felt that. It made them open up to me. They both had different reasons for doing the film, partly due to their age difference – Kübra was 17 when we filmed, Salema was 36. They both liked having a regular visitor, someone who showed some interest in them, someone to talk to. They were both lonely. Kübra felt she’d never done anything in her life that people respected her for. She’d always learned to earn respect with violence because she mainly hung out with boys. Salema, I think, wanted to show the world that she is not a bad person, that things can just happen to you. She had a very strong impulse to do the film. Now I think, it might have been a stroke of fate.
Was it difficult to be objective? One scene in particular seemed difficult: when Salema gets out of jail and in desperation, shoots up. She turns to you and you don’t say anything.
That was very difficult for me because I felt like a Pro7 [Germany’s de facto reality TV channel] cameraman who just stands by as someone’s having a breakdown. But I asked myself: do I want to go home and not film or do I want to keep filming and try to help her? To this day, Salema is fighting a life-or-death struggle. She originally wanted to end her own life in that scene, and she wanted me to film it. I knew that if I left she would shoot up anyway but if I stayed, I might be able to help. Honestly, if I had lived her life I would have committed suicide a while ago.
The film doesn’t have a happy ending. It is however, surprisingly optimistic by the end.
I love the scene where Salema is tossing the leaves in the air. She was actually very sad in that moment but it shows how she sees the world – that she sees beauty in the world. What other adult would just go and pick up leaves simply because they’re beautiful? It’s a curse and a blessing for Salema that she’s still a child inside. She’s never learned to protect herself from the horrors of the world, build up a protective barrier around her. She experiences everything unfiltered.
Both women are so enriching for me: Salema’s inner child and Kübra’s beautiful, intelligent vision of life, her way of speaking poetry. Many people have lost that. However, they’re both not doing well. They’re alive but both are still heroin addicts.
Fooling oneself into believing differently after watching the film would be naïve.
That’s exactly it. There’s no solution. Of course there’s hope, but only for the moment. What interested me most about jail was: what does freedom mean to me? And why are they in jail and not me? Because I have similar pre-conditions. I could have ended up in jail. What is freedom? As a political and philosophical term it’s just a concept but it means something different to everyone.
What does it mean to you?
Waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and liking what I see. Feeling at one with yourself. Do you know that situation when you’re walking through the streets of Berlin in the pouring rain and you see a guy on a bike singing and laughing, not caring what people think? That’s a moment of freedom.
EXBlicks, Meine Freiheit, Deine Freiheit, Mon, Sep 30, 20:00 | Lichtblick Kino