German authorities reject award-winning Bosnian Romani man's asylum request
Nazif Mujić, a Romani man from Bosnia, was the star of last year's Berlinale film festival, winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor for his performance in the docudrama "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker". As of the end of last month, he and his family were living in a residential hotel for refugees on the outskirts of Berlin and waiting to learn whether they would have to leave Germany against their will.
The German authorities have requested Mujić's asylum request and he is only able to remain in the country until 25 February. Berlinale organizers are now doing their best, at the last minute, to prevent his deportation.
Mujić told the German media that he was welcomed home as a celebrity after his success at the prestigious film festival. Originally he believed he would remain in the acting field, but he never received any more offers.
Mujić then lost his original job because those he was working with were reportedly convinced that he is now a rich star. When he finally found employment in a neighboring town as a garbage collector, people allegedly insulted and ridiculed him for being a film star reduced to collecting garbage.
Mujić says he then had to leave that job after a back injury. "By the end of autumn we were so poor we couldn't even buy food. That's when I decided to go back to Berlin," Mujić told the Associated Press.
Instead of the bodyguards, limousine and red carpet treatment he received last February, however, what awaited him, his wife and their three children in the German metropolis was a residential hotel for refugees, as he was not awarded the asylum he sought. The Associated Press reports that Germany has not granted asylum to anyone from Bosnia and Herzegovina for some time now, as it considers the country politically stable.
The organizers of the Berlinale, whose next festival began today, 6 February, are now doing their best to help the actor. "When we found out last week that Mujić is back in town, we immediately contacted him," Frauke Greiner, spokesperson for the festival, said on 29 January.
Greiner said the festival organizers invited Mujić's whole family to attend this year's festival and took up a collection among themselves to pay a lawyer to check up on his case. "His situation is complicated, but we believe the lawyer might help," she said.
Mujić, who played himself in the award-winning film, is now waiting to see how everything turns out. He has less than a month to go.
He does not want to return to Bosnia in any event. "We wouldn't be able to afford food or education for our children there," claims the unwanted film star.
Mujić carries his bear statue from the Berlinale with him constantly and remains convinced that it is more a blessing than a curse. "This little bear is my visa to Germany," he says.
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