Nowhere in Africa
 
  As you might imagine, I am thrilled that Nowhere in Africa has been named Germany's Official Selection for the Academy Awards® but perhaps more importantly, I am keenly aware that the subject matter of the film—the dislocation and relocation of a Jewish family due to the ugliness of war and all its political, social and emotional ramifications—is as relevant today as it was more than sixty years ago, when this true story actually occurred. It was a great challenge to film Nowhere in Africa in Kenya, but we were sure that the film would be more authentic, atmospheric—and better—if we shot close to the original locations. Peter Herrmann, the producer, and I agreed from the very beginning that we should have African actors and extras in our movie who actually come from those areas which are featured in our story. I don't think it's a good idea to dress up Zulus as Masaii or vice versa. Those details have to be true because, after all, the people tell much about their country and lend a special atmosphere and sense of place to the film. It's not something you can simply recreate. Even if the shooting itself is difficult, that in itself is no argument for sacrificing verisimilitude.   What impressed me most about Kenya was the landscape. The expanse, the variety of nature! The landscape changes enormously, ranging from voluptuously green coffee and tea plantations and forests, to arid savannas, rolling hills, lake districts, and the gigantic Rift Valley. And then there are incredibly ugly cities, dilapidated villages, unspeakable poverty. When we first visited the country, there had been a catastrophic drought for three years already. And yet, in spite of everything, the people were so friendly. Such joy of life! That really impressed me. The shooting itself was extremely well organized and prepared by the production company. That’s also because the producer is an ethnologist by training and knows his way around Africa very well. It was always fun to meet the people during the shooting—which, of course, created quite a stir—and to get to know them intensively. However, sometimes I regretted not having more time to simply enjoy the moment, to observe and let matters run their own course. As a director you're always under pressure, you interfere and want to carve a story from the country and its people. That's quite onerous sometimes.

©2003 Landmark Theatres