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Kanak TV

Lydia M. Koglin

1 The practice

2 Hints for an evaluation

2.1 Strenghts

It is obvious that the practises of the Kanak Attak network as well as "Kanak TV" are original and provoking at the same time. With their approach they contributed to the debate about migration and identity in a new way. It is especially important to mention that this is way in which migrants or children of second or third migrant generation can take an active part in the discussion about their status and representation. "Kanak TV" appears to be innovative in regards to the media they are using as well as to the message they want to spread.

Visual approach to the debate
The Kanak members have set themselves the target to show the public other ways of seeing immigration and through this overcome old habits of categorising. The project of "Kanak TV" can also be seen as a reaction to the common handling of migration in German media, such as tabloid press or television. By choosing the medium of film "Kanak TV" is especially dedicated to real and/or mental images of migration.

Additionally the creative part needs to be highlighted. Making up themes and a storyline enforces the discussions and contemplation about, for example, identity or the points of view of people involved in the project. Because the reporters usually don’t have the same ethnic background, different migratory perspectives and experiences are mingled, compared and brought together.

The visual and documentary approach also allows others to watch the output of the creative work of the members of Kanak Attak. Their use of the internet as a means to spread the movies contributes to their desire to reach as many people as possible with their ideas.

2.2 Critical Points

The critical points that are being mentioned here mostly come up because "Kanak TV" is a unique and original project. The storyline and the themes of the movies are developed and worked out by the members of "Kanak TV". The filming, cutting and all the other actions that are evolved in the process of making the movie available for the public (e. g. on the internet website) depend on the personal engagement of the different members. Consequently the success of the project rises and falls in relation to their commitment and inventiveness.

In fact, the movies are entertaining and ironic as well as provoking, depending up on which side one stands. Being fairly intellectual and political active, the members of Kanak Attak first of all address an audience that has a similar awareness of the inadequate discussion about the problem of integration. On the other hand the interviewed guests at the gala (thrown in honour of the 40th anniversary of the Gastarbeiter-movement) couldn’t really handle the offensive and provoking approach Kanak Attak took, also, many viewers of their movies are left alone with the statements made by interviewees. By surprising people in unexpected situations and confronting them with provoking questions they benefit from the spontaneous and unreflected responses. However, catching the involuntarily interview partners off guard creates a situation that is unfair and doesn’t allow the respondent to rethink their answer and it also shows the interviewer in a much better light. This is part of their strategy and as their manifesto reads “this is the end of a culture of dialogue” Kanak Attak doesn’t want to appear as a group of “authentic and exotic human material” that just brings a little colour into German everyday-life, as this downplays the importance of elaborated integration. Consequently their approach doesn’t focus on the exchange and discourse with the audience. As the "Kanak TV" member Miltiadis Oulius mentions: “there were people who really liked our idea, saying "finally someone finds a new way to deal with this". But at the same time, there were others who on one hand liked the movies but on the other hand were thinking that the movies would support racist attitudes because people felt provoked.”

The change of perspective that Kanak Attak aims at is theoretically and practically not as easy as it sounds. But the path they are taking is definitely a new and refreshing way of responding to a flood of images that usually are associated with “immigration” by the public, the media, etc. Doing this they reflect on different themes in order to make the viewer rethink and de-construct the usual ways in which immigration is depictured and discussed.

2.3 Lessons Learnt

"Kanak TV" is certainly a project which will continue to inspire other projects as it spreads, but one has to consider that it is highly dependent on the commitments of its participants.
Furthermore, "Kanak TV" is picking up topics from every day events and is reacting to currents developments, such as the changing status of migrants under German law. So their work is not monotonous but rather reflects contemporary issues. Another strength of "Kanak TV" is their contribution to the debate about the image of migrants that is created by the media.

Probably the two most important things to be mentioned here are firstly the creative approach and secondly the fact that everyone involved in the project is challenged to reconsider his own position and experience. Furthermore the fact that the movies are shown on the internet makes their project interesting and visible for a large group of people.

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