ROTZLOCH, 96min., Switzerland, Documentary
Directed by Maja Tschumi
In a godforsaken place called Rotzloch (“Snot hole”), on the edge of a quarry, a new life begins for four young refugee men. Having a long journey behind them, they try to get back on their feet. Above all, they are searching for contact with women. They find themselves in a different culture and faced with unexpected conflicts. In the film, these young men trace their paths through this new reality and thus are confronted with themselves, their masculinity and their sexuality.
During my visits to the "Snot hole" (Rotzloch) asylum centre I quickly realised how little we actually know about the concrete situation of these young men. Especially not when they have survived the mostly life-threatening escape and have applied for asylum in Europe.
The better I got to know the protagonists from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria and Turkey, the more I became interested in their emotional state and the conflicts they - as men - get into when they want to meet women, have sex or a relationship. They live with other refugee men in a very remote asylum centre where there is no privacy and no contact with women or the local population. What does this do to them, their idea of masculinity and femininity?
Against the background of the debate on sexual assaults by refugee men, this is a complex and very neglected question. The sexuality of refugee men, if it is not articulated as violence against women, is a taboo in our society. As a woman, this issue concerns me directly.
The film shows their subjective perspective, which is never discussed in public. But basically, their stories are comparable to those where a hero leaves an old world for a new one and experiences a transformation or emancipation. In the film the protagonists find themselves on the threshold between old and new lifestyles and between different images of masculinity.
Which path they take and how they ultimately deal with women depends not only on themselves and their past, but also on how our society deals with them and what role models we have here. It is therefore all the more important to bring light into the darkness.