…The Phoenix Film Festival adventure continues…
A documentary film written and directed by Mo Asumang
Winner of the 2014 World Documentary award
Synopsis: after receiving a death threat, Mo, a German citizen of German and African parents, sets out to determine the roots of the word “Aryan”, since she apparently isn’t one. Her travels take her to many locations around the world, including the United States and Iran. She meets some very interesting people, including an educated man who knows the “truth” about the Aryans, one of the world’s premier white supremacists, and a young man who is beginning to see through the ideology of the German Aryan nation. She endures a lot of attitude and horrifying comments made solely to anger her, but meets it all with the intention of learning what it means to be Aryan. Mo is an instigator, heading to demonstrations and meeting Ku Klux Klan members in a dark field, but instead of bringing anger and criticism (which one would totally forgive her for, based on the cruelty of racism in the world), she asks these individuals questions of a very human nature. Her journey is painful, but also hopeful. It gives us a light at the end of a very frightening tunnel: if you meet hate head-on, and counter it with kindness and compassion, and seek to better the world one person at a time, we might just be able to suck the poison that is racism out of our society.
I spoke with a couple of audience members prior to the start of the film; while we were all seated in high anticipation of a powerful documentary, none were looking forward to it. Racism is an ugly topic, and it is justified in SO MANY ways in today’s society. People in general have started to mistake offensive comments for truth and honesty, but have forgotten the most important bit: words cut deeper than anyone can imagine. We know the power of words, because we use them against each other on a regular basis. If someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. It becomes a competition to see who can say nastier things to the other. These things transposed onto the screen and communicated visually is almost more than a person can bear, but we sit through it because we have hope. We hope for change. We hope that the negativity will be replaced by kindness. There isn’t MUCH kindness in this film, but there is enough, and from the right source, that the soul of the audience is able to brighten just a bit.
There are many visually appealing aspects of the film that help to drive the story, mainly the segments shot in Germany. Mo travels around her homeland and speaks with many groups of people about the meaning of the concept/term Aryan, and we see a Germany that is very old and beautiful, yet frozen in a time of unjust ideologies, of supremacy and racism. Mo’s time in the ancient world that is now Iran is equally as beautiful, but somehow more peaceful, possibly driven by the ideology of the people who live there: we are all the same, no one better than another, and we all ought to help one another on our respective journeys. There is no need for standing in each other’s way, and any such action is totally self-serving and cruel.
So how do we meet this poison head-on? How do we develop resistance to the cruel insults and actions and help others to see the pain they are inflicting on one another? First step: education. Get to the root of the hurt. Learn how it is being used against others. Then give those actions a full 180. Mo Asumang met her pain and poison with a shocking dignity and respect for humanity. She gives us all reason to hope. And to help. Once we learn that forgiveness opens our hearts and takes power from those who would continue hurting us, all doors open. We can live happy and share it with the world.
If you have the opportunity to see this film, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do so, even if the subject matter may intimidate. It’s worth it. You see it as a personal journey for discovery, and while there isn’t a true resolution (the world of hate is too big for one person to fix on his own in short order), progress is made. From her roots to her present, Mo gives a face to the peoples around the world who are constantly and consistently told that they are inferior, but she begins to take back her identity and proves to herself that she is not, in fact, worth less than the blond-haired, blue-eyed population that once took the world by storm. She creates a new storm.