hold on to her

hold on to her traces a lived social infrastructure of care, solidarity and struggle, addressing a recent case of police and state violence in Belgium. Mawda Shawri, two years old in 2018, sister of Hama, daughter of Phrast and Shamden, was shot dead by a Belgian police officer during a migration border control. In 2023, over 40 people, both undocumented and documented resident activists, assembled before the camera at La Voix des Sans Papiers in Brussels to stage a collective hearing of documents from and reactions to Mawda’s case. During this gathering, the speakers acknowledge a ghostly haunting, caused by the impunity of the police and the lack of accountability of the state. It is in their refusal of such a lack of truth and human rights that they feel the need to explore beyond the official narratives. They produce the forensic counter evidence of this deadly crossing, and they practice justice as a sensuous social space for collective mourning and healing. Faced with the inability to proceed within the dominant frameworks, this hearing challenges what is visible and audible, supported by Vanbesien’s audiovisual grammar, which foregrounds the opaque and the poetic.
by Robin Vanbesien
with Henriette Essami-Khaullot, Aïsta Bah, Thierno Dia, Ahmed Rzgar, Mirra Markhaeva
Belgium 2024 Kurdish, Dutch, French, English, Subtitles: English 80' Colour World premiere | Documentary form

Content Note

Advisory note on sensitive content


  • Henriette Essami-Khaullot
  • Aïsta Bah
  • Thierno Dia
  • Ahmed Rzgar
  • Mirra Markhaeva
  • Marcus Bergner
  • Lazara Rosell Albear
  • Khaled Zead
  • Naomi van Kleef


DirectorRobin Vanbesien
ScreenplayRobin Vanbesien
CinematographyDiren Agbaba, Robin Vanbesien
EditingRobin Vanbesien
MusicThe Murmur of Wonder Collective
Sound DesignBoris Debackere
SoundLaurens De Smet, Thomas Ferrando, Kwinten Van Laethem, Gedeon Depauw
ProducerSteven Dhoedt
Executive ProducerSteven Dhoedt
Co-ProducerRobin Vanbesien

Produced by


Brüssel, Belgium

www.visualantics.net www.visualantics.net


Brüssel, Belgium

www.timely.be www.timely.be

Robin Vanbesien

As a visual artist and filmmaker, Robin Vanbesien explores modes of embodied knowledge and collective imagination engaged in social and political struggles. His recent films, the wasp and the weather (2019) and Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016) (2017), offer insights into the everyday poetics of social networks and movements. In 2020, Vanbesien co-founded The Post Film Collective, which explores cinema as a form of speculative rehearsal and communal assembly, with Rerooting (2023) as its first film.


2017 Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016); 52 min. 2019 the wasp and the weather; 19 min. 2024 hold on to her

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024


Programme 3

hold on to her

Sat Feb 17 16:00

Arsenal 1

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Sun Feb 18 12:00

Cinema Betonhalle@Silent Green

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Sun Feb 25 20:00

Cinema Betonhalle@Silent Green

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