Speaks With Karin Jurschick About “Zertifikat Deutsch”

     |    Tuesday, der 15. June 2010

1. How did you come up with the idea for the film?

Someone asked me if I would consider making a docusoap about “integration courses” (topic of Jurschick’s film, see the film description). So as research for the film, I visited a number of these integration courses, particularly at the Volkshochschule in Cologne. The mix of people and everything about the classes was fascinating and even moving. People from entirely different countries (e.g. Somalia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, China), with totally different backgrounds (one woman’s education consisted entirely of only four years of Koran school, another man was commissioner of the police in his home country) and reasons for coming to Germany (escaping war and persecution, marrying a German) were here more or less on a voluntary basis to try and learn a new language and to understand what Germany is all about. Germany is presented in their text books as some kind of ideal, some of it is simply absurd, some of it utopian.

The dokusoap didn’t materialize, but I did have the good fortune to make a long documentary for ZDF/ARTE (German public television and German-French TV consortium).

2. Was it difficult to win the trust of the students taking the course? How did you approach them?

I was afraid it would be difficult but it was easier than I thought. Many of people taking the class were interested and curious about what I was doing. I brought along eight interpreters for to our first meeting. That was very important. Everyone could ask questions and understand what was going on. During such projects it is crucially important that everyone consent to the idea and understand what they can expect. Just signing a release is not enough. Also, the project could not have been done without the support of the department head at the VHS Cologne.

3. Have the people featured in the film seen ZERTIFIKAT DEUTSCH ? How did they react?

We had a really nice preview for the students and teachers in the film. Many of them came and brought their families and friends. A few new born babies were there. It was a very different and wonderful audience. What made me particularly happy was that all them felt they were respectfully presented in the film. A lot of them felt it was a great way to meet other people in the class. I think that after watching the film, some of the people first became aware of their own accomplishments, even if they weren’t able to pass the “Zertifikat Deutsch” this time around.