Urban Prayers. Reinventing Religion in the City

Documentary, D/TR/NG 2012, 58 Min. | Script & Directing: Sabrina Dittus | Status: Completed
Camera: Sami Karim | Editor: Christopher Kaps | Production: Pepperlint Film & arte | TV Premiere: Arte 20.8.2013 | Programming Editor Arte: Martin Pieper


Around the world, new religious movements are on the rise across all religious spectrums. Religiosity is no longer a rural phenomenon. On the contrary; religion is migrating into big cities, and the act of attending religious services on Sunday morning has become a normal thing to do for urban dwellers. Indeed, the metropolis of today is where religion is being reinvented. “Urban Prayers. The Reinvention of Religion in the City” examines this phenomenon in the cities of Lagos, Istanbul, and Berlin.


In Lagos, the largest church building holds five times more people than the world’s biggest soccer stadium; it is found in the “Redemption Camp”, a city of God, built in the periphery of Lagos by Nigeria’s largest Pentecostal church.
In Istanbul, gated communities spring up like mushrooms, often designed to combine a religious lifestyle with a modern one. Başakşehir, a satellite town of Istanbul, established in 1994 and today counting one million inhabitants, can be seen as an example of how the city and religiosity are dynamically transforming each other.
In Berlin, religious services are being held in movie theatres, coworking spaces and even nightclubs. Once called the “Capital of Atheism“, Berlin presently counts nearly 300 different religious communities.


Worldwide, new religious movements are changing the cultures, economies and everyday life in the metropolis. These burgeoning movements and organizations have become political actors that frequently take the place of state agencies. While urban cultures are permeated by new modes of religious expression, new religious movements, in their turn, are permeated by urbanism and secularism. The specter of the “postsecular city“ has become reality.

But what does it mean? How does this affect religion? How does it impact urban life? Will religion secularize itself by becoming urban? Or will life in the city become more traditional and conservative? Will political and social movements become replaced by religious promises of meaning and redemption?

“Urban Prayers: Reinventing Religion in the City” documents new urban forms of faith and religion in the metropolis and their effect on urban life.


  • Premiere: iRep, International Filmfestival Lagos, Nigeria, March 2013
  • Naxos Kino Frankfurt, December 2013
  • Vivisect, Human Rights Filmfestival Novisad, Serbia, December 2013
  • Religion Today Film Festival, September 2014


„Changes“ award at the Religion Today Film Festival 2014, Trento, Italy.




Nov. 30, 2019: “Wir sind hier. Vorhang auf für Gaza” (“We Are Here: Young Gaza On Stage”) screens at “Palästinensische Filmtage” in Bonn, Kino in der Brotfabrik, start 6.30 pm.

March 8th, 2019: “We Are Here. Young Gaza On Stage” runs at globale Bremen, start 7.30pm, with Q&A after the screening.

Feb. 15th, 2019: “Aid But No State” runs at globale Bremen, start 7.30pm.

Nov. 12-16, 2018: “We Are Here: Young Gaza On Stage” runs at Entwicklungspolitischer Filmherbst 2018 Baden-Württemberg (Nov. 12 in Weil der Stadt, Nov. 13 in Stetten, Nov. 14 in Weinstadt-Beutelsbach, Nov. 15 in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Nov. 16 in Schwetzingen), start 7.30/8pm, with Q&A after the screenings.

Oct. 30th, 2018: “We Are Here: Young Gaza on Stage” runs at naxos-Kino Frankfurt/M., start 7.30pm, afterwards Q&A.

Aug. 23rd, 2018: “We Are Here: Young Gaza on Stage” runs at globaLE in Leipzig, Open-Air, Clara-Zetkin Park, 8pm, afterwards Q&A.

Nov. 30th, 2017: „Milliarden für den Stillstand“ (“Aid But No State”) screens at KiezKulturwerkstadt, Berlin-Charlottenburg, start 8 pm, afterwards Q&A.

Oct. 23rd.: “We Are Here. Young Gaza on Stage” screens at the Boston Palestine Film Festival .

Oct. 13th: “Wir sind hier. Vorhang auf für Gaza” (orig. “We Are Here. Young Gaza on Stage”) screens at the Arab Filmfestival in Tübingen, start 6pm, Q&A after the screening.

Oct. 10th-12th.: “Milliarden für den Stillstand” (“Aid But No State”) screens at “Entwicklungspolitischer Filmherbst 2017 Baden-Württemberg” – on Oct 10th in Weinstadt (Kommunales Kino), Oct. 11th in Bad Waldsee (seenema Stadtkino), Oct. 12th in Tübingen (Club Voltaire), start 7.30/8 pm, with Q&A after the screenings.