“Alberto” is a hybrid short film about a Syrian Kurd’s imagined relationship with the name on his fake Sicilian ID —Alberto Santos—that afforded him passage to Germany on his eleventh attempt. This 20-minute film will be shot in Athens, Brussels, and Berlin, following the sites where the Syrian Kurd spent the 42 hours he inhabited the name of Alberto. We will revisit his sites of refuge—the cafes he frequented, the corners where he smoked cigarettes, the hookah bar where a smuggler sold him the Alberto ID. The film’s visual track will be anchored in this documented revisitation of space and memory.
The voiceover narrative —and soundscape— will be created through a collaborative, process-based image-elicitation; reviewing the footage together, we will develop a script that recounts a fictional story of Alberto and his relationship with the Syrian Kurd. The plot pivots around both men’s shared need for a new identity: Alberto, who wants to shed his name to pursue a new life, and the Syrian Kurd, who needs a new name to gain freedom.
The film debates the slippery notion of identity and presents a way of engaging with the trauma of wartime flight. It is also a meditation on the power of names, and the idea of Europe itself: as both an entity defined by border regimes and a constructed identity—a body whose promise and fleetingness is evoked by the figure of Alberto. The locations are rife with this tension: Brussels, the seat of the European Union; Athens, the origin of the European idea and the current “gateway” to the EU; and Berlin, the enforcer of austerity and a bastion of political resistance to nationalist narratives.
Weaving fact and fiction, we create a hybrid exploration that probes today’s political reality determining who gets to live where, and what kind of life that can be. Most importantly, it is undertaken with the belief that if we tell the individual tale, we can reclaim the agency that’s lost to grand narratives of history written by those in power.