Das leere Grab – mit Gast

A film by Agnes Lisa Wegner & Cece Mlay. In Swahili, German and English with German subtitles.

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Songea, Tanzania. John Mbano is on a mis­si­on to find the human remains of his gre­at-grand­fa­ther, Songea Mbano, who was exe­cu­ted by the German colo­ni­al army. The family’s mour­ning has been pas­sed down through the gene­ra­ti­ons at Songea’s gra­ve in which his head never found a res­t­ing place. Instead, it was ship­ped to Germany for racist rese­arch. John and his wife Cesilia embark on a life-chan­ging jour­ney. Buoyed by their resi­li­ence as they rese­arch, they final­ly deci­de to tra­vel to Berlin to find the remains of John’s ances­tor. There, they encoun­ter acti­vists who­se voices are fight­ing Germany’s cul­tu­re of deni­al. Along with them, the Mbanos con­front tho­se in power with their need to bring their ances­tor home. What fol­lows is a rol­ler­co­as­ter ride of new hopes and fami­li­ar dis­ap­point­ments. Even the his­to­ric visit of the German Federal President to John’s home­town fails to bring the bel­oved ances­tor back home. The family’s search con­ti­nues.
Das lee­re Grab offers a per­so­nal per­spec­ti­ve: behind the glo­bal deba­te about the return of ances­tral remains, we find real peo­p­le. People vio­la­ted by a colo­ni­al past and its after­math to this day. Their strugg­le paves a way to a future disen­tan­gled from a pain­ful past.


DE/TZ 2023, 97 Min., Suaheli, Deutsch und Englisch OmU
Regie: Agnes Lisa Wegner, Cece Mlay
Kamera: Marcus Winterbauer
Schnitt: Donni Schoenemond

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