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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Invitation to become a German

Im Land meiner Kinder (Land of my Children)
Darío Aguirre, Germany/Switzerland

Darío Aguirre was born in 1979 and left his home country Ecuador in 2000 to be with his German sweetheart Stephanie. They fell in love during her year as an au-pair. When it was time for her to go back home, Darío followed her to Germany. He could stay in her parents’ house, of course in separate rooms. As we learn from this documentary, written and directed by Darío, it was not easy for the traditional German couple to understand the ways of this foreigner, the young, Spanish-speaking South American with whom their daughter is friendly.

Darío's dream was to become a filmmaker and he enrolled at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. He studied visual communication/media from 2001 to 2006. His first full-length documentary César's Grill was screened in 2013 and showed during film festivals around the country, earning him praise and numerous awards. In the next 15 years living in Germany he had to struggle with a long list of documents, like applying for permits, follow restrictions or renewing his passport. During this time he was issued a total of 10 visas. This bureaucracy was part and parcel of his relationship with Stephanie and life in Germany.

And now, quite unexpectedly, comes a letter from the Mayor of Hamburg inviting him to become a German, offering him citizenship. At first he is only stunned, Stephanie is skeptical. His father in far-away Ecuador wonders how it would feel to become the citizen of another country and wonders, “it only costs Euro 255”? Darío speaks to other immigrants, tries to find out their feelings and mental state by living between two worlds, searching for a way to belong. For most of them it remains a balancing act between the old and the new home. What makes you a German? This question still stays in the air after he proudly poses with the new official certificate, presented to him by the Mayor of Hamburg.

In this road movie Darío Aguirre handles a universal theme on a very personal and entertaining level. His intelligent humor and playful episodes show his talent as an artist. When interviewing his protagonists, Stephanie Tonn, César Aguirre, Mariuxi Guevara, Christa und Andreas Tonn, he lets us see his gentle personality. The film follows Darío's path – often tongue in cheek – from the land of his fathers to the country of his children. It has never been easy but he followed this complicated way with touching openness and a positive manner. The result is a very honest and uplifting film.

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