Opening June 1, 2017
Directed by: Carsten Rau, Hauke Wendler
Writing credits: Carsten Rau, Hauke Wendler
Principal actors: Documentary with Gezim, Elidor, Angjela, Lorenz Caffier
Last year, roughly 25,000 asylum seekers were deported from Germany – sent home regardless what awaits them there. Many of these deportees return to Albania. Deportation Class is a slow yet moving documentary film profiling several refugees in Mecklenburg-Pomerania who get sent back to their hometowns in Albania.
The filmmakers let the details do the talking – from the thick file with a dozen colorful post-its shared between police officers (“Any kids? Any need for baby seats?” one of them asks flatly) in preparation for the deportations, to the midnight raids of refugee housing, the residents’ jarred pickles left behind on the windowsills outside. “Why must you come in the middle of the night, like I am a criminal?” asks one desperate refugee whose family is about to be split up. “It’s inhuman.” He receives only shrugs from the five officers surrounding him. A local politician named Lorenz Caffier accompanies the large team of uniformed officers throughout the depicted deportation process in Mecklenburg. At one point in the film, he’s shown on film apologizing to a German police officer that the coffee machines had recently been broken. Yet with Gezim, the first refugee deported during the film, Caffier stands silent as the translator explains how scared Gezim is of the blood feuds back home in Albania. “Deportation is, in a sense, a disciplinary measure,” Caffier tells the cameraman.
Deportation Class is a clever play on words. While the film sometimes moves a bit slowly – live stills of the profiled refugees linger just a moment too long, police officers sometimes stand around aimlessly – it speaks volumes about the plight of refugees in Europe. (Deborah S.)