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Screening Religion

Once a month, we screen international documentaries and movies rarely seen in German cinemas. Religion features in every film, be it as a catalyst for negotiation processes or a source of conflict, a marker of identity or a constitutive element of social background. Thus, we seek to screen films on religion whilst simultaneously screening for “religion” as a cinematic object.

Some of the films will be presented by their directors, others will be introduced by KFG scholars. We look forward to a curious, cosmopolitan audience to join us on a journey of discovery and in countless lively exchanges.

We organise the screening series in cooperation with the independent cinema Cinématèque Leipzig. All films will be shown at nato, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 46.

Winter 2019/2020

Moschee DE

directed by Mina Salehpour and Michal Honnens

15 October 2019 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

The film mirrors the partially fierce debates and protests in the run-up to the construction of the mosque for the Ahmadiyya community in Berlin-Heinersfeld in 2008.

Based on interview protocols with opponents and supporters of the mosque, neighbours and community members, the two directors let enter fictitious characters enter into an equally fictitious dialogue: The convert, the politically correct newcomer, the local pastor, the imam and the chairman of a citizens' initiative that wants to prevent the construction. Soon it is no longer just about building the mosque, but about the fundamental question of how we want to live together.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A. Moderation and introduction: Florian Zemmin, guest: Rainer Frank (actor playing the chairman of the citizens' initiative).

Souls of Zen: After the Tsunami – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan

directed by Tim Graf and Jakob Montrasio

20 November 2019 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

The film is a documentary about the responses of Japanese Buddhism to the threefold catastrophe – earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown in the nuclear power plant of Fukushima – in Japan in March 2011. It impressively shows the role played by Japanese Buddhism in caring for the survivors, burying the dead and rebuilding the affected regions and reflects the complex role of Zen Buddhism in what is by definition a secular society characterised by natural disasters, religious pluralism and demographic change.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A.

The Children of Vank

directed by Nezahat Gündoğan

18 December 2019 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

The documentary deals with the descendants of the few survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Dersim (Tunceli) and the 1937-38 Dersim massacre. It accompanies descendants who return to the homeland of their ancestors in an attempt to connect with their lost Armenian identity.

In examining issues of belonging, memory and the long shadow of the genocide that now weighs on many Islamised Armenians in Turkey the documentary draws a line from the survivors to the persecution of the religious minority of the Alevis in Dersim.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A with the directors.

The Venerable W

directed by Barbet Schröder

15 January 2020 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

In recent years, violence against the ethnic Muslim minority of theRohingya has grown steadily and eventually escalated in Myanmar. Villages have been systematically destroyed, houses burned down and people were killed or displaced.
The documentary portrays Wirathu, a Buddhist monk and ideological leader of a radical movement against the Rohingya. The film also deals with the aggressive and violent nationalism in general that has spread in Myanmar.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A.

Confucian Dream. Opening Film of CHAI Film Festival

12 February 2020 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

For Chao Yan, every day begins with Confucius. Together with her little son she immerses herself in the teachings of the Chinese philosopher every morning. The other members of the family should also follow the moral guidelines of Confucianism in order to enable a harmonious coexistence - so Chao Yan hopes. Her husband, however, takes a critical view of this, and not only the marriage of the two is facing a crucial test. Li Mijie vividly documents how a young mother seeks answers to questions of raising children and family life in the millennia-old "Confucius' Conversations".

Get – Der Prozess der Viviane Amsalem

directed by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz

11 March 2020 | 7 p.m.
Cinémathèque Leipzig (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 46)

The drama tells of the fate of the Israeli Viviane Amsalem and her long, desperate struggle for a divorce from her husband Elisha in the Jewish Orthodox Rabbinical Court.
Although the court can require the husband to consent to the divorce, it only becomes effective if he personally hands over a Gett, a divorce letter issued by the court, to his wife. Elisha refuses the divorce, although Viviane has been living apart from him for years.

The screening will be followed by a discussion.

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Summer 2019

Shoot Me

directed by Narges Kalhor
22 May 2019 | 6 p.m.
venue: Strohsack-Passage (Nikolaistraße 8−10, room 5.55)

In her award-winning documentary “Shoot Me” ( (co-directed with Benedikt Schwarzer) from 2014 Kalhor portrays the exile Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi. When he published a song named after a Shiite prophet that deals with many of Iran’s political and social problems, he was confronted with death threats.

Introduction: Adrian Hermann

REASON. The war between faith and rationality

directed by Anand Patwardhan
19 June 2019 | 5 p.m.
venue: Bibliotheca Albertina, Vortragssaal (Beethovenstraße 6)

In what is perhaps his most urgent and thorough exploration of Indian society yet, renowned documentarian Anand Patwardhan charts his country’s slide away from secular democracy and toward divisions of power, caste, and religious belief — and the violence that has followed.

Introduction: Nadja-Christina Schneider


directed by Vikram Gandhi
17 July 2019 | 7 p.m.
venue: Bibliotheca Albertina, Vortragssaal (Beethovenstraße 6)

Sri Kumaré is an enlightened guru from the East who has come to America to spread his teachings. After three months in Phoenix, Kumaré has found a group of devoted students who embrace him as a true spiritual teacher. But beneath his long beard, deep penetrating eyes, and his endless smile, Kumaré has a secret he is about to unveil to his disciples: he is not real. Kumaré is really Vikram Gandhi, an American filmmaker from New Jersey who wanted to see if he could transform himself into a guru and build a following of real people. Now, he is conflicted -- can he unveil the truth to these disciples with whom he has spent so much time, and who now look to him for guidance?

Introduction: Adrian Hermann

Mata tertutup (The Blindfold)

directed by Garin Nugroho
14 August 2019 | 7 p.m.
venue: Bibliotheca Albertina, Vortragssaal (Beethovenstraße 6)

The film is built around three loosely interwoven stories of young people who fall prey to a banned extremist Islamic sect called Negara Islam Indonesia (NII). The stories attempt to come at the phenomenon from different perspectives of wealth, age and gender, showing that this is a problem that crosses all these primary social distinctions, and hence has a salience for all major social groups.

Introduction: Leona Pröpper (Watch Indonesia!) & Saskia Schäfer

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer

directed by Arpana Sen
10 September 2019 | 7 p.m.
venue: Bibliotheca Albertina, Vortragssaal (Beethovenstraße 6)

"Mr & Mrs Iyer" was conceptualised as a love story set amidst violence but ultimately says a lot more. On the whole, the film reflects ace director Aparna Sen's humanism depicted through finely blended emotions. It mirrors a frightening reality in the wake of the WTC attacks and the Gujarat carnage through a masterfully told story. A masterful Sen captures contemporary India, its people and the social and political complexities within which they exist.

Introduction: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Sushmita Nath