Eggie Dian, member of The Children of Srikandi Collective and one of the directors of the film CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI, was invited as an official guest to the fourth edition of Remake. Frankfurt Women’s Film Days hosted by the Kinothek Asta Nielsen e.V. The festival took place from December 5 to 10, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main. The screening of CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI and the film talk were programmed on Friday, December 8. Eggie Dian had to apply for a Schengen visa at the German Embassy in Indonesia in order to travel from Yogyakarta to Frankfurt. The required documents included a letter of invitation from the Remake Film Festival, a return ticket, travel insurance and a letter of commitment guaranteeing sufficient funds for her stay. Together with Angelika Levi, one of the film's producers and a professor at the HfG Offenbach, we guaranteed the stay as hosts. It took two weeks for the Offenbach Immigration Office to approve the letter of commitment and for Ms. Levi to send the document to Eggie Dian, who passed it on to the visa agency VFS Global in Surabaya. VFS Global is a private subcontractor of the German Embassy in Indonesia.
VFS Global informed Eggie Dian that the visa would be ready after 21 days of processing, on December 7 or even earlier, according to the original travel plan with a departure on December 7. There was no reply or information from VFS Global or the German Embassy until this departure date. The following days were a nightmare for Eggie Dian. She called and emailed every day, but only had to deal with queues, answering machines and responses from bots. A visa helpdesk from VFS Global Germany allowed tracking, which only ever said one sentence: “VISA application is under process at Embassy in China”.
We changed the outbound flight to December 9, still hoping that the visa would be ready the next day. On the 8th, Eggie Dian finally received an email that the visa application was ready and the passport could be picked up at the VFS head office in Jakarta.
While Eggie Dian took the 8-hour long-distance train from Yogyakarta to the airport, a friend had to pick up the passport in Jakarta. When he picked it up from VFS Global, he asked twice: Where is the Schengen visa? He received the following answer: “Please give Ms. Dian this letter together with the passport. She can pick up the visa at the airport check-in counter.”
At Soekarno Hatta airport, the friend gave Eggie Dian the passport and the letter in German. She translated this letter with the help of Google while waiting at the check-in counter and found out that it was a rejection notice from the German Embassy.
The rejection notice is based on two points:
1. the purpose and conditions of the planned stay have not been proven.
2. you have not provided proof that you have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the planned stay or for the return journey to your country of origin or residence or for transit to a third country in which your admission is guaranteed.
Both rejection points are not reasonable and insulting Eggie Dian and us as hosts.
It is incomprehensible why Eggie Dian was humiliated by being sent to the airport in the belief that she could travel to Germany, and why she spent weeks powerless in the face of a German authority that remained unreachable for her and that did not even consider it necessary to translate the rejection notice into English. Why was the visa application being processed in China? Why was the visa refused? And why was she told that the visa would be handed out at the airport while she received a rejection notice?
For us, the hosts, organizers and filmmakers who are part of the Remake Film Festival, which this year has the motto "Solidarity with others", this visa procedure makes it clear that solidarity and collective action are being prevented by our democratic states. With increasingly bureaucratic laws, border regimes are being installed that produce arbitrariness and powerlessness, deport people or do not even allow them to enter the country, separate and traumatize people and thus permanently trample on freedom of movement and the demand for equal rights.
We urgently request a statement from the German Embassy in Indonesia regarding Eggie Dian’s visa procedure.
Frankfurt am Main, December 15, 2023
Gaby Babić, festival director
Angelika Levi, producer CHILDREN OF SRIKANDI
Heide Schlüpmann, managing board of Kinothek Asta Nielsen e.V.
Esra Kartal, head of guestservice
Kathrin Brinkmann, Redakteurin
Lisabona Rahman, film archivist and programmer
Borjana Gaković, film and media scholar
Regina Ulwer, documentary filmmaker
Michaela Dietl, composer and musician
Hildegard Westbeld, filmworker
Madeleine Bernstorff, freelance author and film curator, long-standing member of the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival commission
Elif Rongen-Kaynakci, film archivist and curator