WHEN PAUL CAME OVER THE SEA
Documentarian Jakob Preuss follows one migrant’s passionate and inexhaustible flight to freedom as he makes the journey from Cameroon to Berlin.Jakob Preuss’s engrossing documentary on an African migrant’s journey to Europe opens on a golf course in Melilla, a tiny Spanish enclave located on Africa’s north coast. Hopeful migrants scale the high fence surrounding the manicured greens and stare down at the leisurely pastime of the golfers below. Because this small strip of land shares a border with Morocco and forms the boundary with the European Union, it is a key entry point for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe. To those who successfully climb over the fence, it’s a gateway to freedom.
Paul is a refugee from Cameroon who came to the attention of the Berlin-based filmmaker shortly after he arrived in a temporary encampment in neighboring Algeria, having survived an arduous Sahara Desert crossing. Paul believes that scaling Melilla’s fence is too dangerous. His best hope of reaching Spain, he thinks, is not over the border wall, but rather across the Mediterranean by boat. His first attempt is thwarted by a Moroccan farmhand who reports him to local police. But on his second try, he survives the voyage in an inflatable dinghy. Many of his companions, however, perish on the harrowing two-day journey.
Upon reaching the Spanish mainland, Paul is dispatched to an immigration detention center. Fortunately, the filmmaker manages to later reconnect with him at a Red Cross shelter in Granada. Weighing his options, Paul decides to leave Spain and, believing his future is best served in Germany, undertakes a risky trip across Europe to Berlin. In tracking Paul’s perilous quest, Jakob Preuss tries to remain an unbiased observer, but soon finds himself deeply invested in his subject’s passionate and inexhaustible flight to freedom.
Director & Screenplay Jakob Preuss
Cinematography Juan Sarmiento G.
Cast Jakub Preuss, Paul Nkamani
Producers Jakob D. Weydemann, Jonas Weydemann
Production Companies Weydemann Bros./Cologne & Berlin, in co-production with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel/Mainz
Length 97 min
Festivals Shanghai 2017, Sao Paulo 2017
Awards Golden Goblet: Best Documentary Film Shanghai 2017
He coordinated the writing of the electoral manifesto of Bündnis 90/The Green Party for the 2014 European Elections and has worked as an advisor on European Affairs for the Greens’ parliamentary group at the German Bundestag. In the past he has also worked as desk-officer for the Commonwealth of Independent States at the NGO “Reporters without Borders” and participated in numerous Election Observation Mission mostly in the former Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2014 Jakob co-founded the initiative GehtAuchAnders, whereby artists engage with political issues and take a stance. Since 2014, he is regularly invited to speak as a migration expert, direct result of the four years of research conducted for WHEN PAUL CAME OVER THE SEA.
Jakob Preuss holds a law degree from the Sorbonne in Paris and a Masters Degree from the College of Europe, Natolin.