Documentary Films


a film by Monika Borgmann, Lokman Slim, Hermann Theißen

a production by LICHTBLICK FILM
in co-production with Umam Production, Dschoint Ventschr, Unlimited
in collaboration with WDR, SF DRS, Filmstiftung NRW, MEDIA Programme

35mm / 98 minutes / Dolby SR / Color

In 1982 over a single three day period, 1000 - 3000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were murdered in Sabra and Shatila. The exact number of victims killed, abducted or both between the 16th and 18th of September 1982 is still unknown. The suspected perpetrators are mainly from the Forces Libanaises, a Christian militia allied to Israel. The Israeli army arranged the logistics of the massacre and was commanded by the former Minister of Defence and today's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In1982, the massacre in the Lebanese Palestinian camps shocked the world; today it is (almost) forgotten although it formed the template for subsequent massacres: for example in Rwanda or in the Yugoslavian wars. Unanswered questions come up over and over again: what drives people to such excesses of cruelty, and how can those who committed such crimes live on?

MASSAKER is a psycho-political study, in content and aesthetics, about six suspects who took part in the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, not only because they were ordered to do so but also for their own motives. The film incorporates the psychological dispositions of the suspects with their political surroundings and approaches the phenomenon of collective violence through the accounts of the perpetrators.

Without intending to reconstruct the massacres of Sabra and Shatila verbatim, MASSAKER shows a previously untold version of the atrocities through the intertwined stories of six protagonists: the version of the people who committed the crimes.

In the Lebanon, the massacres of Sabra and Shatila are considered to be - like all other massacres that were committed during the 16-year long "civil war" – a taboo, even today. Nobody was held accountable. On the contrary, in 1991 the Lebanese parliament introduced an amnesty for all crimes committed during the civil war. Hermann Lübbe calls this kind of suppression politics, which tries to avoid disturbing the unstable post-disaster, "Communicative reticence" in reference to the German post-war period.

MASSAKER insists on truth, not on accusation, indoctrination or comment. The decision to only let the people who committed the crimes speak might be debatable, but their stories are not.

writer/director: Monika Bormann, Lohmann Slim, Hermann Theißen
producer: Joachim Ortmanns
exc. producer Libanon: Lokman Slim
co-producer Suisse: Werner Schweizer
co-producer France: Marie-Michèle Cattelain, Philippe Avril
commissional editors: WDR - Werner Dütsch, SF DRS - Paul Rinkier
DoP: Nina Menkes
editors: Anne de Mo, Bernd Euscher

Internationale Filmfestspiele 2005

FIPRESCI Preis Berlinale
Spezialpreis der Jury Visions du Réel Nyon
Lobende Erwähnung (First Film Prize) FID Marseille

Festival de Cannes (ACID-Reihe)
Festroia Film Festival Setúbal
Internationals Film Festival Durban
Internationales Filmfestival La Rochelle
Melbourne International Film Festival
Jüdisches Filmfestival San Francisco
Helsinki International Film Festival
Internationales Film Festival Viennale,
Jüdisches Filmfestival Warschau,
Leed International film Festivale
Gijon International Film Festival