For better, for worse, in sickness and in health

For better, for worse, in sickness and in health The Flat New Neighbours

Filmed in 2019 well before the COVID emergency, the documentary film “The Flat” by NTR and the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group is a lesson in solidarity and support between neighbours – old and new. We can’t help but wonder what has happened to the individuals and families portrayed in the film, many already struggling with complicated situations or special needs. But we can all learn from Evert, one of the protagonists, who is confined to a wheelchair and dependent on the help of others: “The most important thing is to make your life matter. Not just to yourself, but to others too.” 

The apartment building of the Dutch New Neighbours documentary is located in a small town near The Hague. People from different cultures and religions try to find ways to help each other, and in this challenge are being assisted by a coach. The “flat coach” knows everyone in the building and works as a mediator and facilitator of new networks and contacts – be it for a weekly coffee get-together, a language tandem or the lifesaving help that Evert needs. 

Frans Jennekens, New Neighbours Executive Co-Producer and a pioneer of inclusion and diversity in Dutch and European public service media, comments: “(…) This complicated process of integration, of withdrawal and acceptance, is filmed within the microcosmos of ordinary people, in ordinary houses in ordinary streets. I hope the series will give an insight that will be recognized by many viewers.” 

The Flat” is ultimately a reminder of why human beings have mostly chosen to live in communities and of what constitutes the quality of meaningful relationships – for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. 

You can watch “The Flat” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu

Building Bridges – Across Soundproof Walls

Building bridges across soundproof walls new neighbours documentary

In a changing neighbourhood near Barcelona, locals and newcomers are navigating cultural and religious differences. “There are few of us left, born and raised here”, comments a shopkeeper in the documentary film by RTVE and the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group. A comment we hear over and over in many European cities, though not often followed by the remark “Yes, people have changed, but in the end, they are not so different”, as Miguel says in “On the Other Side”.  

Initially, Miguel was not enthusiastic about his new neighbours – he lives next door to the mosque of the Islamic centre “Camí de la Pau” and for months he was calling the police to complain about the noise coming from the main prayer room. Two years later, with the dividing wall made soundproof, relations have evolved to a respectful and careful coexistence. 

Saima, one of the most active Pakistani women in the centre, also had to discover how to live between cultures and build a new sense of home. Together with other neighbours committed to intercultural and interreligious dialogue, she engages to open the doors of the mosque and make Iftar a neighbourhood celebration.  

You can watch “On the Other Side subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu 

NEW NEIGHBOURS shows us that women can change the world

After the South of Italy, Germany and Slovenia, the New Neighbours journey takes us to Belgium with “Danielle’s Choice”. Belgian film director Safia Kessas followed an extraordinary woman who opened her house to refugees. Why Danielle?

“Because despite obstacles, she follows her choices to the end, she is an active citizen who resists”, says Safia.

Danielle – because the most welcoming people are women and in Europe they are the ones we see on the screen the least. Danielle – because she is a strong, courageous and determined woman who shows us the human face of migration.

Co-produced by the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group and RTBF, the documentary tells her story as she joins a platform of volunteers helping new refugees find accommodation and get on their feet. But in the process, Danielle’s own family is left feeling forgotten. How can she reconcile her need to be a part of her own family, while creating a new one?

Danielle’s Choice had its premiere at the Centre for Fine Arts Bozar in Brussels on the occasion of the World TV day in November 2019. After the festival “Elles tournent” in January and the “Millenium” festival in March, the film was selected in April of this year for the ONE Country ONE Film international film festival as the only representative for Belgium in the short film category. Each year, one country is honoured, and several films are selected from that country. Since its creation in 2010, ONE Country ONE Film has selected 111 countries.

You can watch “Danielle’s Choice” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu

As our world seems to be falling apart, NEW NEIGHBOURS urges us to move “One Step Closer”

As our world seems to be falling apart, NEW NEIGHBOURS urges us to move “One Step Closer”

One Step Closer”, the third episode of the New Neighbours film series to be released online, holds a small surprise and teaches us that happiness can take a long and winding road, even if you’ve never left your home country. Co-produced by the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group and RTV Slovenia, the documentary follows a Kurdish family of six in their encounters with the new Slovenian neighbours.

According to the film director Jernej Kastelec: “We get the impression that the locals and the newcomers don’t have much reservations or prejudice, but also that neither of them needs closer contacts. To leave the safety of their inner social circle and make an effort to make new acquaintances – this was a challenge for the neighbours from both sides of the fence, and for us of course!

The Hasan Khalils had a good life in Syria. Romat was a childcare worker and her husband Ismail was a tailor. When the war broke out, they had to flee with their two children to save their lives. They left everything behind: their family, house, friends…  They have been on a journey without a known destination for eight years – Iraq, Turkey, Greece. During that time, two other sons were born. They have lived in Slovenia for the past three years and built their new lives there. 

Their Slovenian neighbour, Zinka, explains that many people from the city have moved to the village in recent years. She tells us that they have no problems with the new Syrian neighbours. She confirms that they don’t know each other and have only fleeting encounters. This can stay unchanged for an unknown period of time, since Slovenes mostly don’t establish more profound ties with neighbours. But Zinka has a story of her own to tell…

You can watch “One Step Closer” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu 

From Damascus to Berlin, NEW NEIGHBOURS documents an extraordinary friendship

Across the road worlds apart New Neighbours Documentary

The New Neighbours journey takes us from the ghost town of Sutera, Sicily, to the metropolis of Berlin and its new Syrian residents. “Across the Road – Worlds Apart” by EBU-DW pays tribute to the unforgettable life of Eva Sternheim-Peters and documents her friendship with Syrian refugee Amer Kassab. 

At the age of ten Mrs Sternheim-Peters joined the league of German Girls, the girl’s wing of the Nazi party’s youth movement. She afterwards recognised the horror of the movement and spent her life welcoming people from all around the world in her apartment. Her last “roommate” was Syrian refugee Amer Kassab. The film follows Amer as he visits a German pub frequented by local regulars opposing Muslim newcomers. Will the encounter with Amer shift their views?

Dasa Raimanova, film director, recounts a memorable moment of the shooting:

During a severe heat wave in Berlin, together with our protagonists, Eva (94) and Amer (27), we visited the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. It was a harrowing experience, difficult to describe in words. While we were mostly worried about Eva managing in the heat, quite the opposite happened: Amer and the crew were melting while Eva kept going without complaining even once about the heat.

“Across the Road – Worlds Apart” had its premiere at the Centre for Fine Arts Bozar in Brussels on the occasion of the World TV day in November 2019. It is one of nine documentary films exploring real stories of daily life in an intercultural European Union, co-produced by the EBU Intercultural and Diversity Group within the project New Neighbours. 

Eva Sternheim-Peters died in 2020 as one of the victims of the corona virus pandemic in Germany. The co-production team of the New Neighbours series is proud and grateful to have  managed to capture part of Eva’s life on camera.

You can watch “Across the Road – Worlds Apart” subtitled in English here. All nine films are being made available one after another via www.newneighbours.eu