It´s burning

Amal, Omar and their son Ahmad are a happy family, of Arab origin, living in Germany. One day they visit a playground and meet a man named Franz. However, the situation suddenly gets out of control when Franz insults and attacks Amal because of her headscarf. A court case is initiated, but during the next hearings an incident occurs that completely changes the family's life.

  • Erol Afsin
    "The Path" „Time“, „The Way home"
  • Erol Afsin
    "The Path" „Time“, „The Way home“
  • Christoph Fisser
    The French Dispatch, Bridge of Spies, Inglorious Basterds
  • Hannes Heidenreich
  • Kida Khodr Ramadan
    Ègalitè, In Berlin wächst kein Orangenbaum, Man from Beirut, Kanun
  • Erol Afsin
  • Frederick Lau
  • Kida Khodr Ramadan
    Key Cast
    4Blocks, Asbest, Oskars Kleid, Greenlight
  • Halima Ilter
    Key Cast
    Zagros, Jiyan, Kafkanistan,
  • Emir Kadir Taskin
    Key Cast
  • Nicolas Garin
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Es brennt
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 28 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 20, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    120,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Arri Alexa Amira 3.2k 444HQ
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1.66 1
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • (Official selection) The Munich International Film Festival
    June 27, 2023
    Germany Premiere
Director Biography - Erol Afsin

Erol Afsin was born in Adana, Turkey, and at the age of 19, he came to Germany to pursue his passion for acting. After three years of residing in Germany, he was accepted into a state acting school. During his studies, Erol Afsin performed in theater productions and films on an international stage, including Palestine. He made history at the Folkwang University of the Arts as the only graduate to complete a screenplay. Erol Afsin was also a scholarship holder of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation during his studies.

In 2015, Erol Afsin directed his first short film, "The Way," which tells the story of a woman who converts to Islam through her husband but later divorces him due to his non-compliance with the religion's rules. He has also appeared in numerous national and international films, showcasing his talent at prominent film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. His film "Mustang" was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in 2015.

In 2019, Erol Afsin directed a short documentary that chronicles the journey of a Palestinian and a European to Palestine, highlighting the challenges they face. Most recently, he directed "TIME" a short film in August 2022.

Today, Erol Afsin is a German citizen and resides in Berlin.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My film is a reflection of the tragic and cyclical nature of violence and discrimination in our world, inspired by the powerful lyrics of Mordechaj Gebirtig's "S'brent" and the shocking ending of the film "Night of the Living Dead." By Romero. The realization that history repeats itself in different forms, as seen through the story of Amal, was both incredible and alarming.

Mordechaj Gebirtig's most renowned song, "S'brent" ("It's Burning"), was written in 1936 as a response to the increasing anti-Semitic violence in Poland at the time. The song expresses the pain and fear of the Jewish community in the face of these attacks, and sadly, its message proved prophetic as the Nazis invaded Poland just a few years later, leading to the genocide of the Jewish people. Mordechaj Gebirtig himself became a victim of the Holocaust, losing his life in the Kraków Ghetto in 1942. To this day, "S'brent" remains a powerful anthem of Jewish resistance and resilience, performed and recorded by musicians worldwide.

"Night of the Living Dead" is a landmark film that is considered one of the most influential horror movies of all time. At the end of the movie, the main character, Ben, who is played by Duane Jones, survives the night by barricading himself in the basement of a farmhouse. However, when the police arrive in the morning to rescue any survivors, they mistake Ben for one of the zombies and shoot him. The film's bleak and shocking ending serves as a commentary on the senseless violence and racism that permeated American society at the time.

When I first learned about the murder of Marwa El-Sherbini, I was deeply disturbed by the atrocity. As I delved deeper into the topic, I was even more surprised to discover how many people had simply stood by and watched, much like in the Song of Mordechaj Gebirtig. This inspired me to name my film "Es Brennt," where I explore the experiences of a family fully integrated into German society and seemingly content in their world, reflecting our society at large. However, I also raise thought-provoking questions such as whether mere integration is enough to belong and who gets to decide when one is fully integrated into society. Does one need to achieve a certain level of accomplishment to claim German identity? Is being German a prerequisite for belonging in Germany? These are also the questions that my characters, Omar and Amal, grapple with in their lives. Born and raised in Germany of Arab origin, they are raising their child in Germany and believe themselves to be a part of the country. But is that enough? When does one truly own a country, and when does one belong to it? These are the inquiries that continue to occupy my thoughts.

When I arrived in Germany in 2008, I did not speak a word of German. Since then, I have mastered the language, pursued my studies, become a successful actor, obtained a German passport, and gained the right to vote in German elections. Does this mean I am now German? And what of our parents, were they ever German? In "Es Brennt," my two characters also wrestle with these questions.

As someone who is familiar with this subject matter, my intention was to bring our lives into focus. These events continue to occur in various forms, and I feel as if we are trapped in a never-ending cycle. To convey this sense of repetition and circularity, "Es Brennt" uses a monotonous style, with the camera work creating a feeling of observation. I employed repeated and long takes to emphasize the language of the story over its delivery. I focused mainly on "what is being said" rather than "how it is being said." I created scenes that may not have existed in this way before.

As an artist, it is not necessarily my job to present solutions, but I feel a responsibility to ask questions. "Es brennt" is my attempt to address these questions to all of us, and we can work together to find answers.