|    Tuesday, der 20. May 2014


In Hamburg and Berlin, politically active refugees have been creating awareness through demonstrations, the Oranienplatz camp and even hunger strikes about their plight and German and EU immigration policies. In Germany, for example, asylum seekers are not allowed to work for the first nine months and only after four years do they receive full employment permits. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of dependency on state handouts despite an eagerness to work and integrate into the host country. And the images of drowning refugees in Lampedusa continue to haunt us.

In addition to the thousands of recognized asylum seekers and tolerated refugees, there is likely a six digit number of illegal refugees living in Germany. The day to day life of a teenager from Colombia who lives clandestinely with her mother in Berlin is the subject of Frieder Schlaich’s comedy-drama WEIL ICH SCHÖNER BIN. Based on a true story which Schlaich heard about from a lawyer friend who works with asylum seekers, WEIL ICH SCHÖNER BIN features precocious 13 year old Charo (a likeable, commanding and heartbreaking performance by Mariangel Böhnke who hopefully will pursue acting) as she copes with family conflicts and first love while exploring the exciting urban playground of Berlin’s Neukölln and Kreuzberg districts. Charo takes it in stride that she and her mom, who works sans papiers as a cleaning lady, move from apartment to apartment. But everything threatens to fall apart when Charo, a bright pupil who dreams of becoming a lawyer, wants to register for high school and needs proof of legal residency while her mother is arrested and designated for deportation. And what about Laura (Mira Aring), Charo’s best pal, who sticks with her through thick and thin but absolutely must not find out about Charo’s dilemma…

Frieder Schlaich has created a film targeted to teenagers and young adults that is captivating for audiences of all ages. An eloquent plea that “no one is illegal.”