Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Panorama Dokumente

Zentralflughafen THF

Central Airport THF

Qutaiba Nafea (Protagonist), Karim Aïnouz (Director), Ibrahim Al Hussein (Protagonist)

Moderation: Margarita Tsomou

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Tempelhof Airport in Berlin is Europe’s largest heritage building. It became a symbol of both National Socialist self-aggrandisement as well as of freedom during the airlift of 1948/49. Since autumn 2015 several hangars have been providing temporary shelter for refugees. Like the other 2,000 people here who have fled their homeland, Ibrahim from Syria and Qutaiba from Iraq dream of being able to make a new start. Full of hope, they work with translators, doctors, language teachers and job agents to prepare for life in their new German home. The lack of private space and communication and administrative barriers are some of the challenges they face while, on the nearby recreation area of Tempelhofer Feld, Berliners and tourists escape their daily routine. Chaos and harmony: two very different worlds in one place.
Karim Aïnouz spent a year following these men in search of a place they can call home. The film’s sensitive and well-composed images capture their lives that are shaped by uncertainty, stress and anguish, but also jollity and aspirations. The building’s architecture and the changing seasons add a surreal dimension. A portrait of a city within a city that is also a snapshot of Europe caught between utopia and crisis.

Karim Aïnouz

Germany / France / Brazil 2018

Arabic, English, German, Russian

Documentary form
97’ · Colour

World premiere


Karim Aïnouz
Assistant Directors
Valentin Noujaim, Camilla Gonzatto
Juan Sarmiento G.
Felix von Boehm
Benedikt Schiefer
Sound Design
Moritz Unger, Daniel Weis
Moritz Springer
Production Management
Eva Schulthess
Commissioning Editor
Søren Schumann, rbb/Arte, Berlin
Felix von Boehm
Charlotte Uzu, Joana Mariani, Diane Maia
Les Films d'Ici, Paris
Mar Filmes, São Paulo
Canal Brazil, São Paulo
Cinema Inflamavel, São Paulo


Karim Aïnouz

Born in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1966, the director, screenwriter and artist has made over 15 films so far. Praia do futuro screened in the 2014 Berlinale Competition; his documentary Zentralflughafen THF was presented in Panorama in 2018 and won the Amnesty International Film Prize. A vida invisível received the main award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2019. He is a mentor for screenwriting at the Brazilian institute Porto Iracema das Artes and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Filmography (selection)

1992 O Preso; short film 1993 Seams; documentary 1994 Paixão Nacional; short film 1998 Le Ballon de Bairros; documentary 2002 Rifa-me; short film · Madame Satã (Satã) · Madame Satã (Madam Satan) 2003 Hic Habitat Felicitas 2006 O céu de suely (Love For Sale) · O Céu de Suely (Suely in the Sky) 2009 Viajo Porque Preciso, Volto Porque te Amo (I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You) · Viajo porque preciso, volto porque te amo (I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You) 2011 Sunny Lane; short documentary · O abismo prateado (The Silver Cliff) · O Abismo Prateado (The Silver Cliff) 2013 Venice 70: Future Reloaded 2014 Praia do futuro (Futuro Beach); Competition · Praia do Futuro; Competition · Cathedrals of Culture; Berlinale Special · Diego Velazquez oder ungeschminkter Realismus; documentary 2018 Zentralflughafen THF; documentary, Panorama · Zentralflughafen THF (Central Airport THF); documentary, Panorama 2019 A vida invisível (Invisible Life)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020

Produced by

Lupa Film

World Sales