What is SoulKino? An interview with Ana Barrena Lertxundi (English)

11824999_10207418042832568_2749441923570685515_nAna Barrena Lertxundi is a member of the Left Berlin Internationals group and one of the main organisers of SoulKino

What is SoulKino?

SoulKino is a monthly event in Neukölln. It combines soul music with a film show, which is then discussed with the audience. It is an opportunity to combine international politics with culture.

The maxims are:

  1. Remembering historical events that are hidden by mainstream discourse. All events are based on a theme, which is connected to a political-historical topic of the month.
  2. Political Enlightenment and Deliberation. All SoulKino events contain an input from people who have researched or personally experienced the theme discussed. We provide the opportunity to debate or ask further questions with the person who kicks of the discussion. Everything is in connection with the film, so that we are also able to talk about reality and fiction, or the function of cinema and art in general in relation to politics.
  3. Our tribute to soul music. We regard this as the ideal form of a “cultural revolution”. Soul music was able to a certain extent to normalise equality in society. Nonetheless racism as an international phenomenon is still very much there. In recent years in Germany, and other countries like the US, extreme right wing movements have been growing. Its time for soul to flourish again
  4. Opportunities for artists. We want to create a space to share art inside society. The organizers of SoulKino are very active in left social movements and in Spanish parties in Berlin. As politically involved Europeans in another EU country, one of the main themes of our protests is the fight against European austerity. Artists are also victims of this policy. That is why SoulKino is creating a space for them show their art, where it is also available non-Germans. Artists are doubly discriminated by austerity and by the prejudices of the job market.

Our goal is to realize our goals in the special context of Berlin. Alongside the gentrification of the city, a “hipsternihilistic” art has developed, which is only available to certain groups of society and concentrates on individualistic problems. We wan to convince people that the political ideas and struggles can be attractive and have an aesthetic value as artistic objects. For this reason, we are showing films about universal topics or problems of everyday life. They thus have a meeting for each one of us, albeit in different forms. Making art available to everyone is very significant in the middle of an economic and political crisis with global repercussions.

At the first SoulKino, 50 people watched a film from the 80s. At the second, there were 100 people for a relative obscure film from Colombia. Who is the SoulKino audience and why are they coming?

As we have set ourselves the goal of discussing different subjects on a monthly basis, we assume that different people will always come, depending on the interest. The theme of the first and second films were the Chilean and Colombian politics. This allowed us to reach a large Latin American audience. On top of that there were many Spaniards and Germans.

The reason for this is probably, the high importance of the cultural relations of Spain to Latin America and the solidarity and admiration of the Spanish left for the Latin American progressive movements. Among the Germans there are also many who have a strong and personal relationship with these countries because of their experiences through a social year in those countries.

The next film, Lilya 4-ever is geographically and thematically removed from the previous SoulKinos, so we are very interested in seeing who will come next time. Until now, most participants are very active in international, political movements in Berlin. They may be coming to SoulKino to find the opportunity of not just talking about politics, but also about culture. The discussions that emerge out of the evening also take a cultural form.

Until now, many Spaniards and Latin Americans have attended SoulKino but all films and discussions have been offered in German. Are Germans also welcome at SoulKino?

Definitely. Not only Germans, but everyone, irrespective of their nationality. This is the only way that we can truly realize SoulKino as an anti-racist project. Many of our monthly topics are related to a particular geographical area, yet they also always universal. For example, the coup against the Allende government was an imperialist action against a movement that emerged from civil society. The Colombian peace process is a model that can be compared with the possibilities for social justice in this amd other countries. The prostitution in the film Lilya 4-Ever takes place in Russia and Sweden, but the debate about how we deal with prostitution and patriarchy is universal.

SoulKino has a sort of relationship with the LINKE and their “Internationals” group. Can you explain this more precisely?

The organizers of SoulKino are also active in doe LINKE Berlin and more specifically in the LAG “Internationals”. In addition, we think that the maxims of SoulKino are also very present in the multicultural Internationals group. We want to work together to realize social change.

So, we have an exchange of ideas within the Internationals group wherever we have the opportunity. At the same time, SoulKino is open to all social movements which share our maxims. Everyone is more than welcome to introduce themselves and say what they believe in. It is good for the Internationals group to meet new people and existing organisations. These connections make us strong.

What is the relationship between culture, film and politics for you?

Politics is everything that is in the public arena. This means that all films are political. Culture and film are media which can spread political debate, but also inform people about the concrete effects of certain contemporary and historical politics. This means that even films which are described as unpolitical by the highly monopolized film industry, always take a political position. The film industry tries to make subversive points of view invisible. The only solution is to use the same means, ie films and culture, but with a different content.

What can we expect from SoulKino in the future?

SoulKino is a project. A concept that is open to constant change. This can be realized by our openness towards the participation of everyone, through their criticism, the development of SoulKinos from what we have done so far. The answer to the question will first come through the implementation of our future decisions.

The questions were asked by Phil Butland