Back to Africa
Documentary filmmaker Othmar Schmiderer spent a year following five African artistes from the "Africa, Africa!" circus and variety show, an initiative of the Austrian producer, singer, actor and director André Heller. The two directors were well acquainted with one another, as they co-directed the award-winning documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary back in 2001. In addition to the five artistes' training and performances, Schmiderer concentrates on their return to their homelands of Senegal, Ghana, Gambia, and even Paris, where some of them see their families after months of being on tour. All five of them are distinct, self-confident artistes, and most of them try to inspire others at home and serve as examples for them. They accomplish this not by waving money around, but by telling people that waiting and asking for a handout won't get them anywhere. It sounds like a sugary Hollywood scenario, but Schmiderer doesn't make it any prettier than it is. The performers' considerable self-discipline is obvious, and almost all of them are working on projects to offer opportunities to young Africans. The director reveals an Africa that we know exists, but one whose stories and images we hardly get to see. The lives of these five people are classic coming-of-age stories, only filled with music and dancing.
Peter Rommel for Peter Rommel Productions, Kurt Langbein for Langbein & Skalnik
Hermann Dunzendorfer, Moritz Gieselmann, Othmar Schmiderer
Sarah J. Levine, Peter Przygodda