Wandel Lab 2022 – Storytelling as an act of Resistance

By Maria Chotou

In response to the planetary emergency, activists, filmmakers, and storytellers clashed their visions over how we could produce co-creative spaces at the Wandel lab festival in Berlin. A weekend of action workshops, open spaces, art, and culture around social change took place at Atelier Gardens on the 3-6th of June. 

Among the many talks that Wandel Lab hosted, one of them was coordinated by Berlin-based filmmakers (Green Twenties) and students from MA in Visual and Media Anthropology at HMKW. ‘Storytelling as an act of Resistance: Artistic Intervention and Impact on the Planetary Emergency’ was the title of the roundtable discussion. The workshop included stimulus material, research findings, presentations, and insights from a range of current and recent projects that respond to the environmental crisis and provide an opportunity for activists and storytellers to network and discuss

The workshop aimed to brainstorm around how can stories transition from awareness building to action and how can creators be more targeted with modality and distribution of stories to gain maximum impact. 

‘We need to think of the output and how to imagine sustainable futures, but also how to bring them out’ says Blake Paul Kendall, lecturer at HMKW and coordinator of the discussion. 

Participants from HMKW were students: Elke Hautala, Hauxita Jergeschew, Melissa Blythe Knowles, Yusuf Ölmez,, and Mamo Akefetey. Others: Pavel Borecký (AnthroPictures / University of Bern) and Leonard Leesch (Green Twenties)

Short interview with Yusuf Ölmez,

Yusuf is a director, screenwriter, and producer.

His master’s in Visual and Media Anthropology at HMKW has allowed him to explore his artistic research through photography and ethnographic films. 

“The program is a key for me to dwell more into the non-fiction forms of storytelling and ethnofiction. This means that it allowed me to explore the field of visual anthropology that opened up a space that combines my profession of filmmaking with another research-based perspective.” Yusuf says.


  1. What ‘stimulus material’ did you present at the roundtable discussion for Wandel Lab 2022?

I presented a short documentary that I made as part of our effort in the Environmental Anthropology course. It was a collective story that is shaped by the interview that I made with my participant, Remzi Oguz Gunaydin, about his approach to planetary emergencies. I also experimented with the codes of poetic cinema to question this critical situation from an alternative and emotional perspective.

  1. In your opinion, how can documentaries make a positive impact on society, especially when filmmakers collaborate with activists and anthropologists? 

Activist documentaries of this kind have the potential of creating empathy, dialogue, and emotional stimuli. I think this can make it a bit different from research-based mediums which are also contributing a positive impact on society. Artistic research can be a method of abstraction to enrich and diversify the possibilities of other fields which strengthens the diversity of the contributions with other fields.

  1. How can storytellers/filmmakers contribute to the transition into sustainable futures?

There are a lot of ways to be part of this but I’d like to share my own experience. Raising an alternative voice of protest and awareness is one of the greatest possibilities that art allows us. When I think about this, I also remember how some poems, like the works of Nazim Hikmet, enriched my inspiration about resistance differently. Cinema and other mediums of artistic research can have the same.

  1. Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there or any advice you would like to give on cinematography?

I do not see myself as a person to give advice but for the sake of this valuable question and my dedication to sharing personal experiences, I would say following my intuitions and intellectual pursuit with my lens and ear allows me to have conversations with more people through the works of image and sound that I create. I try to experiment and investigate my questions in this way. This creative process makes me engaged with the participants and audience through my camera.

You can view Yusuf’s short film presented at Wandel Lab 2022 by clicking the link below: 

Check out the trailers that Yusuf produced for two of his fiction films:

What Kind of Digital Society We Want to Live In

by Maria Chotou

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re:publica is the largest conference about digital culture in Europe. It was founded in 2007 as a small-scale meeting for digital creators and today marks a wide-ranging conference of digital culture representatives. During a three-day festival in Berlin, artists, activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, NGOs, journalists, scholars, and social media experts converge to share knowledge. 

Arena Berlin and Festsaal Kreuzberg hosted for the first time re:publica22 on the 8th-10th of June. The reconnection with the community was an absolute thrill after the two years of the covid19 pandemic and the online execution of the festival. The Glashaus, the Arena Club, the Flutgraben, the Hoppetosse, and the Badeschiff – including beach areas – were also used as exhibition spaces.

This year’s digital conference focused on acute social, digital, and political grievances in the face of several crises: the climate crisis, Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Corona crisis, and the fight against hatred and agitation on the web.

Anyone who has ever attended re:publica knows that the festival always ends with the celebratory and collective singing of Queen’s “Bohemian Rapsody”. With over 400 workshops and programs on ten indoor and outdoor stages and more than 700 invited speakers, re:publica22 opened this year’s ceremony with the last line of the same song: “Any Way The Wind Blows”. Since these were the last words spoken at the pre-pandemic get-together of re:publica19. “Never again war” – the performance by Tocotronic marked the end of re:publica22 in the year of the war against Ukraine. 

The main takeaways from re:publica22

A series of discussions and lectures explored the question of what kind of digital society we want to live in and how we can shape it together. 

The major debates of our time around climate, the war in Ukraine, and Corona were discussed, as well as technological evolutions and advancements such as Metaverse, the Web3, NFTs, and artificial intelligence, and their economic and social impact.

This year’s focus also included civil society strategies for combating disinformation, ways to curb hate on the web, and new ways of limiting the power of large tech companies through platform regulation.

The German writer, Sascha Lobo, in his talk “Any Way the Wind Blows,” reflected on current social developments while keeping a close eye on the media, politics, and the audience. Bringing together digitization, globalization, and moralization, he invoked the power of the network, but also the dangers of Alexa and China’s TikTok. 

Marina Weisband, a German-Ukrainian journalist and activist, raised a critical voice – virtually connected – in an appeal to the audience about German hesitation and reaction to the Ukraine war. ‘Democratic states need to stick together now more than ever’ she said.

Olaf Scholz was the first German Chancellor to take part in the event. The German Chancellor from SPD, during his visit at re:publica, described the war in Ukraine as a turning point “because a single country, Russia, is breaking international law in the most brutal way with the power of its military apparatus and without any cause.”

All talks have been published online on re:publica2022 Youtube Channel: 

Volunteering for re:publica22 

Each year, re:publica is also accompanied by a group of volunteers. This is a great opportunity for those who are unsure whether to attend or cannot afford the relatively expensive ticket for this big conference. The tasks usually involve mainly press crediting and ticket checking. 

Students in HMKW’s master’s program in Digital Journalism also volunteered and gained insights from the conference. As a volunteer, I was mostly occupied with tasks related to the standard ticket stands, with plenty of time, however, to wander around the conference and explore the different stations.

There is a Facebook group that is been updated and all people are welcome to register for the next conference as volunteers. 

A flashback to 2019 

The re:publica19 newsroom was run by a student team from HMKW Berlin headed by Prof. Dr. Ranty Islam and operated by the Department of Journalism and Communication. As “Shifted News”, the students of the master’s program Convergent Journalism reported live and multimedia on behalf of re:publica. They were also supported by the teachers at the HMKW Jost Listemann, Sarah Meister, and Daniel Lehmann, and students from the design department.

As part of the HMKW MediaLab, a combination of teaching editing and multimedia newsroom, the group was able to prepare for the tasks. This was a unique opportunity for the students to use the skills they have learned during their studies in a live context at an event of this dimension.

Click below to view HMKW’s participation in re:publica: 

Here are some photographs from re:publica22: