Film on Racism Under Fire in Germany

Granted, in one episode in the film, Wallraff talks about the stories blacks who have been discriminated against in various German administrative offices shared with him. And then he dons his disguise to see what it's like for himself. Accompanied by Avad, a black German, he tries to sign up to take the exam to get a hunting license. But the bureaucrats react aggressively to his request and refuse to provide him with information about the test. Avad doesn't say a word, though, and he is never asked what it's like when public servants refused to help him land a job. In the end, Wallraff pushes him out of the picture, too.

Part 2: The State of the Debate

The main criticism levied against Wallraff's film is that it fails to portray the debate about racism against blacks in Germany as being as advanced as it really is. For example, Della criticizes the film for "making absolutely no mention" of how much blacks in Germany have organized themselves. "We're happy that racism is discussed," he says, "but black groups have been doing the same thing for over 25 years."

Sow has a similar criticism. "Wherever you look," he says, "whether it's in academia, publishing or the annual reports of anti-discrimination offices, knowledge about everyday racism is present -- and accessible with the click of a mouse." He adds that: "Whites just have to stop ignoring and doubting these findings." As he sees it, the only reason Wallraff succeeds in drawing attention to the plight of Kwami Ogonno is that he is "privileged in the racist system (over) research results, publications and testimonials produced by blacks."

The stories of black Germans have been portrayed in films, books and songs for many years. In 2006, the documentary "Black Deutschland" was released, which featured leading black Germans in the artistic community speaking about how blacks are perceived by themselves and others. In 2007, the black German actress, television host and film director Mo Asumang released "Roots Germania," a film about her search for her family's roots. And, in 2009, black German rapper Samy Deluxe released an album and book entitled "Dis wo ich herkomm" ("That's Where I'm From"), both of which present a controversial examination of his relationship with Germany, his native country.

In response to such criticisms, however, Wallruff complains that "unfortunately, too few people either watch or read" these works. "It'd be much better," he adds, "if they enjoyed a wider audience."

What Is True in True-to-life?

While conducting research for his film, Wallraff even contacted the ISD to obtain reports about the experiences of blacks in Germany. He also consulted with Mouctar Bah, a prominent black human rights activist in Germany. But neither Bah nor any other blacks are interviewed as part of the film's on-screen action.

"That would have made it another film," Wallraff told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "As is the case in all of my roles, its about experiencing a situation at the gut level." He also believes that it was completely appropriate to use is undercover method when treating this issue as well. "My approach makes everyday racism comprehensible for Germans," he says -- meaning, of course, white Germans.

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