December 21, 2014
Silver Bear-winning actor applies for asylum in Germany
Nazif Mujic, a gypsy from a small village in Bosnia, won the Silver Bear for his role in An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker by director Danis Tanovic. The film is about Mujic’s real-life struggle to save his wife’s life after she had a miscarriage.
Now, almost a year later, the movie star has turned into an asylum seeker. He returned to Berlin in November, this time with his family to make his asylum bid, although he was vague about what grounds he was basing his application on. Germany has not accepted asylum seekers from Bosnia in years, because it considers the country politically stable, and Mujic is now desperately fighting his deportation, slated for March.
When Mujic returned to his village of Poljice after the awards ceremony last February, the neighbours welcomed the nearly illiterate gypsy with a big celebration. Everybody was proud of him but the stardom didn’t last long. Soon other gypsies did not let Mujic work in his old job as a scrap metal collector anymore because they were convinced he had become a rich movie star, he said. After a while, Mujic found a job as a garbage collector in the nearby town of Lukavac, only to be humiliated by people in the streets who, he said, laughed that a film star would pick up trash.
He said he eventually hurt his back so badly that he quit the job and decided to start from scratch in Germany. He is sharing one cramped room with his wife Senada and their three little children. The guards at the asylum centre don’t allow him to invite reporters on the compound, and he is always afraid that somebody is going to steal his silver bear. Mujic therefore keeps the 20 centimetre-high trophy — a bear standing on its back legs as if it were dancing — in a black bag that he carries with him at all times. He affectionately calls it “my teddy bear.”
Mujic now hopes to get help staying in Germany from the Berlin Film Festival — the people who made him famous to begin with.
“When we found out a week ago that Mujic is back in town, we contacted him immediately,” said Frauke Greiner, a spokeswoman for the Berlin Film Festival. She said the family has been invited to this year’s festival, and staff members have privately raised money to pay for a lawyer. “His situation is difficult, but we’re hoping the lawyer can help him.”
Lately, Mujic said, he feels like a dancing bear himself — like the ones that gypsies put on leashes and forced to entertain crowds. “I don’t have any influence on my life.”
Herald with AP