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Günter Wallraff – ‘wallraffing’ around Germany

“The important thing is truth,” says Günter Wallraff. “And it has to be backed up.”

Legendary undercover journalist Günter Wallraff discussed his documentary “Günter Wallraff: Black on White” at Göteborg International Film Festival.

The man who is famous for his “wallraffing” – his method of investigative journalism – spent a year traveling through Germany as Somali immigrant Kwami Ogonno in order to find out how dark-skinned immigrants are treated in Germany.

His skin was painted dark. In some scenes, he worked with a group of black actors to portray a Somali family. 

His findings are shocking: discrimination in our society is still prevalent. 1/3 of the German population is highly racist. Kwami encounters resistance in all sorts of situation.

 

I asked Wallraff what surprised him the most:

“Kwami could not get an apartment. He was never told that it was because he was black. He was just told no. Right after, the director of the movie went, a white man dressed in rugged clothes, and immediately got an apartment.”

  How does Wallraff, as an actor, prepare for a role?  

“I don’t change much at all. But I let out different parts of myself. Mentally, intellectually. And I let out my playfulness. It’s fun.”

  Improvisation is important once the camera rolls.  

Prior to filming, Wallraff spent a lot of time with black immigrants to gain understanding.

 

But is there hope for more tolerance? And what about Sweden and the rest of Europe?

“The situation is getting better in Germany,” he says. “And this is a European problem. I’d like to inspire someone to travel around Sweden and the rest of Europe the same way I did in Germany and record the experiences.”

  It’s an interesting thought and Wallraff laughs approvingly when I say he just inspired me!  

Solveig Haugen

 

Correspondent for filmfestivals.com

 

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