PHOTO: © Filmforum NRW


In the organizer's words:
a film by Agnes Lisa Wegner & Cece Mlay
Germany/Tanzania 2024, 97 minutes, original version in Swahili, German and English, partly with German subtitles
Tens of thousands of human remains from former colonies are still stored in German museums. It is still unclear how they can be identified and returned. "The Empty Grave" follows two families on their arduous search for their ancestors: In southern Tanzania, young lawyer John Mbano and his wife Cesilia follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, who was executed by the German colonial army over 100 years ago. His ancestor's skull was taken to Germany for racist "research purposes"; the family is still haunted by this pain today. Felix and Ernest Kaaya are in a similar situation: in northern Tanzania, they are fighting for the return of their ancestor's remains and travel to the metropolis of Dar es Salaam to do so. Both families wrestle with the thicket of German and Tanzanian bureaucracy, but also receive support from activists such as Mnyaka Sururu Mboro and Konradin Kunze, who create visibility for the issue in Germany. With their help, the Mbanos are finally received at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, and then even Federal President Steinmeier comes to their home town to apologize for the suffering inflicted. But the grave is still empty.
In their film, the German-Tanzanian directing duo Agnes Lisa Wegner and Cece Mlay tell of the traces and traumas that the former German colonial rule has left behind in Tanzanian families and communities to this day - and of the strength and self-empowerment of the bereaved, who are stubbornly campaigning for a full investigation. "The Empty Grave" sheds light on a chapter of German history that has hardly been illuminated (also cinematically) and thus makes an important contribution to the long overdue reappraisal of German colonial crimes.
In the presence of the directors Cece Mlay and Agnes Lisa Wegner
With African food & drinks!
An event organized by Salzgeber and Afrika Film Festival Köln in cooperation with Pambazuka Swahili Kultur , KIOSK-Arts Exchange e.V., ISD Köln - Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland , Sonnenblumen Community Development Group e.V., Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum and the freeCongo collective.
This content has been machine translated.


Filmforum NRW Bischofsgartenstr. 1 50667 Köln

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