Emanuel in Bremen // 1st Report

Once again, I find myself brooding over the past even when it hasn’t happened yet, and imagining a future version of myself that remembers experiences I’m experiencing right now. Why? Because the present is always wrapped in a subtle haze that prevents me from seeing things clearly, while the past is bright enough in the image that I construct of it, since only what really matters passes through the thick sieve of time. Just as only what really matters survives the eye of a camera lens.

If future me was thinking now about the year he spent in Germany, in Bremen, he probably wouldn’t remember the setbacks, the daily dramas, or when, coming out late, he spent the day terrified in the uncertainty of having turned off the stove in the kitchen or not. He wouldn’t remember the small, mundane little troubles that he was weighing heavily, and that were fading as fast as the sun in this city. I imagine him remembering, with nostalgia, every film or documentary he’s worked on and all the people he’s met and worked with, knowing from the beginning that it was all just a parenthesis. A parenthesis, however, filled with important information for an accurate understanding of the short sentence of his life.

Future me would surely remember TaFi, the organization he belonged to in Bremen, which has proven to be a special place from the very beginning. He would remember how there he was not merely a volunteer placed to occupy some empty spot, but a crucial element of the machinery of such an important and prestigious institution. The largest archive of dance films in Europe relies largely on us, foreigners who linger for a short time, passing the baton in a relay that requires us to stop at some point, even if we do not want to and we would rather keep running. Many great personalities from the cultural world have passed through this intriguing place, from Wim Wenders, who collected material from us for his film about Pina Bausch, then nominated for an Oscar, to Pina Bausch herself, from Susanne Linke to Reinhild Hoffmann, without forgetting Heide-Marie Härtel, the founder, who created a place where you can breathe the air of a cultural heritage that would otherwise be lost.

The future me would also remember the community of the other volunteers, that from the first day made him feel at home, although home was far away and very different from Germany, a country that sometimes seems to close itself in a stubborn silence, that it’s difficult to penetrate and understand in the eyes and ears of those who did not grow there and cannot help but feel disoriented. The disorientation that comes from loneliness, from the sudden tear from your roots that gives you the painful but essential awareness of who you are, where you come from, and why you are here. Coming to Germany for this experience means to dangerously exposing to the risk of recognizing and understanding yourself, because from the outside is often easier to have a clearer view. And with the support of the international community of Bremen, it’s not that complicated to focus. Which is, in the end, the very reason why I’m here: to put pictures in focus.

I still have some time to spend here, and although the future is never easy to imagine at TaFi, it is easy to imagine how I will see all of this when, looking back, I will find it again in the past: as a time of growth, awareness and exchange, in which, between thousands of directions, I decided to take one, no matter what, and stick to it.


Emanuel is hosted by  Deutsches Tanzfilminstitut (TAFI) financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.