Parrot at the milk bar

D/E 2014 – 83 Min

Screenplay, Direction, Photography: Ines Thomsen
Editing: Franziska von Berlepsch

In co-production Polar Star Films, Barcelona
Supported by FF Hamburg Schleswig Holstein

The infamous El Raval quarter, with its narrow lanes full of dark figures, lies in the middle of Barcelona, in the Old Town, near the water. Where earlier, sailors shared the cheap little flats with working families, migrants from all over the world now characterise the area. In the small alleys their little barbershops lie side by side. Each nationality has its own. The businesses cater for parallel societies and have little contact with one another. Whoever enters apparently leaves Spain behind to plunge into a safe place of familiar rituals and memories of home. The barbers live from their regular customers and their almost pastoral ability to constantly talk about everything and nothing, or remain silent, whilst they softly touch and courageously beautify the heads and cheeks of the weary and burdened. The film tells of four hairdressers and their customers in El Raval, four small, strange time and space capsules, of people who left their home to find a better one, while the Spaniards are about to leave their own country themselves.

A humorous observation in Barcelona’s immigrant neighbourhood El Raval. Four barber shops, four places of remembrance, strange time and space capsules inhabited by people who left their home to find a better one, while the Spaniards are about to leave their own country themselves.

Documenta Madrid, Docs Barcelona, Hofer Filmtage, Alcances, achtung Berlin

new berlin film award in der Kategorie Bester Dokumentarfilm 2015

Statement of the jury of documentary film of the 11th achtung berlin Film Festival about winner ‘Parrot at the Milk Bar’:

“Drowning people go to a country, where they drown even more’ says the barber who immigrated from Marocco. Under shaving razor and dryer hoods minor remarks develop great wisdom for us. Ines Thomsen shows us a piece of the New Europe: Of the mobility of the ‘flexible human being’, of the search for happieness and subsistence far from home and family, of refuge in new regions

But she also tells of a social life with grown rituals in an old neighbourhood. In four small barbershops in the middle of Barcelona’s crisis-ridden immigrant neighbourhood El Raval, the film makes us fall in love with its protagonists with great delight, respect and ease. It’s not easy for either one of them, but it seems that they manage to just take it easy, right here in this microcosm of hairdressing. There is much talks and personal contact. No matter if it is the barber with his customer, the apprentice with his master or the regulars among themselves.

Without making us aware of the camera, the filmmaker allows us to laugh, cry, feel and think with the protagonists. A charming film, which makes us long for warmth and community, even though Skype and mobile phones are in use here as well. As succint as the film’s title sounds – Parrot at the milkbar – this film still resonates in us from an alley in Barcelona and we wish it a big, loving audience in German cinemas soon.”

1st Prize at the 19th Filmfest Schleswig-Holstein

The jury explains:

“Observations in barbershops of different nationalities in Barcelona reveals a kaleidoscope of dreams, a place that is not only to find there, but also in ourselves. With impressively visual compositions and a nearly invisible camera, the director manages to get close to the proatgonists.”
Available on!