“Countless documentaries have attempted to put a human face to the global refugee crisis but few have felt as compassionate and engaging as Karim Aïnouz's Central Airport THF. [The film] is distinguished by its determination to accentuate the positive and find the good in what is happening.” - Screen International
“A rare observational documentary that recognizes the beauty of spatial forms without forgetting the individuals who inhabit those voids.” - Variety
Berlin's historic Tempelhof Airport, a place of transit amplified by Nazi dreams of grandeur, has been repurposed as Germany's largest emergency shelter for asylum seekers, mostly refugees from Syria. This distinguished portrait of a building and its transient inhabitants amounts to an essential study of compassion, and the institutional reconstitution of human lives.
This impeccably photographed documentary chronicles a year in the lives of asylum seekers in Berlin’s historic Tempelhof, a former airport expanded by the Nazi government as a symbol of Hitler’s Germania. The irony of the situation is not lost on Aïnouz or his subjects. Ibrahim, an 18-year-old from Syria, is studying German and waiting for his status to change from the uncertain “protected” category to the more secure “refugee.” Qutaiba, a 35-year-old physiotherapist from Iraq who was forced to flee before completing medical school, is volunteering at the clinic as a translator. The airport has become a city within a city, with box homes, spaces for the provision of healthcare, a barbershop, table tennis, and even a modest Christmas market. The men and women who work in the shelter try to accord some dignity to the thousands of people in limbo there.
Central Airport THF is a moving portrait of displaced people in transition, and its focus on the positive implies that Germany might be one of the few European countries generous enough to welcome them to a new home.
97 minutes - English, German and Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by: Karim Aïnouz
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