Produced by Bernd Burgemeister, Dieter Graber, Harald Wigankow
With actors Ioannis Tsialas, Toni Osmani, Barbara Rudnik, Günther Maria Halmer
available on DVD in Germany
Christian Wagner’s Ghetto-Kids is a tale of two brothers from a family of Greek migrants living in a poor foreigner’s quarter in Munich. The story begins with the two youngest brothers of the family, Maikis and Christos, departing their native Greece to join their mother and eldest brother in Munich in search of a better life.
The film details the difficulties of life for Maikis, 17, and Christos, 13, as troubled migrant youths who have resorted to petty theft and small time drug dealing. Throughout the film Maikis and Christo run into trouble with the law, but under the guidance of their counselor Xaver and a new teacher from Greece, Hanna, they begin to change their lives around. As Hanna gets involved in the boy’s remedial school they end up showing her a world that she was unaware of, as she in turn helps them to change the course of their lives. However as Hanna and Xaver’s message begins to truly sink in with Maikis the tragic death of Christo illustrates the real difficulties for migrants in making it out of the ghetto.
Ghetto-Kids exemplifies the troubles faced by present day Germany in integrating migrants into its society. The film uses Maikis and Christo’s family to demonstrate the difficulties faced by migrants who are perceived as inherently different from the German community at large. This idea is given further credence, however, when Hanna witnesses her son, who appears to be the archetypal German child, being bullied in the school yard because of his Greek surname. This scene is a decisive point in the film and shows the inner evolution of Hanna’s character to a more sympathetic disposition towards migrants. The film ends by posing a difficult moral question when Hanna and Xaver discuss the success of their programs: how can a developed society such as Germany change the fact that in a class of migrants only two or three are able to overcome the challenges presented and better their situation in life?
by Michael Silva