Colonial Mentality

We begin our three-part series focus­ing on the con­ti­nu­ity of colo­nial men­tal­i­ty with a clas­sic ethno­graph­i­cal film from 1930. We do not want to accuse the direc­tors Gulla Pfef­fer and her cam­era­man Friedrich Dal­sheim, who shot their movie in a vil­lage in Togo, of having a Euro­cen­tric per­spec­tive, quite the oppo­site. MENSCHEN IM BUSCH (People in the Bush) is most likely the first German film about anoth­er cul­ture that con­sis­tent­ly assumes the per­spec­tive of the people being filmed. It is an odd fact, how­ev­er, that the film is intro­duced by Duke Adolf Friedrich zu Meck­len­burg, who was the gov­er­nor of the German colony of Togo (1912-1914). How did that happen? Adolf Friedrich became known for his early expe­di­tions to Africa between 1907 and 1911, which earned him an hon­orary mem­ber­ship in the Berlin Soci­ety of Anthro­pol­o­gy. After the First World War, he became the vice pres­i­dent of the German Colo­nial Soci­ety and was a member of the board of the German Kolo­nial­film GmbH, which was found­ed in 1917. We will dis­cuss how his intro­duc­tion with racist under­tones ended up in … read more

African Mirror

Mischa Hedinger
Switzerland 2019 | 84 min | engl. subtitled
Fri, 31-May-19 01:30 PM
Sun, 02-Jun-19 02:00 PM
Q&A with: Mischa Hedinger
For decades, Swiss trav­eller and film­mak­er René Gardi (1909-2000) explained the African con­ti­nent and its inhab­i­tants to us. In books, tele­vi­sion pro­grams and films, he waxed poetic about the beau­ti­ful … read more

Cracks in the Mask

Australia, Germany, Switzerland 1997 | 57 min | engl. subtitled
Sun, 02-Jun-19 10:30 AM

Over the last 100 years, the Torres Strait Islanders in far north Aus­tralia have been the sub­ject of many anthro­po­log­i­cal expe­di­tions. The result­ing deple­tion of their cul­tur­al arte­facts has left them with noth­ing but a his­to­ry of remem­bered loss. The only people in the Pacif­ic to make elab­o­rate turtle shell masks have none left; all their mate­r­i­al cul­ture now resides in for­eign muse­ums.

In a quest to reclaim the past, Ephraim Bani, a wise and knowl­edge­able Torres Strait Islander, trav­els with his wife to the great muse­ums of Europe where his her­itage lies. Ephraim unbur­dens him­self to his diary in moments of poignant rev­e­la­tion: the arte­facts made by his ances­tors have under­gone a trans­for­ma­tion as museum dis­plays. When Ephraim asks for the return of some objects, the result­ing debate expos­es wider ques­tions about con­tem­po­rary museum cul­ture as well as the com­plex­i­ty of inter­na­tion­al and Indige­nous pol­i­tics. They thought it would be easy to talk to the cura­tors about the resti­tu­tion of some objects; but to his mind, muse­ums were in com­pe­ti­tion with each other to own the great­est trea­sures.

Menschen im Busch

Friedrich Dalsheim, Gulla Pfeffer
Germany 1930 | 64 min | engl. subtitled
Thu, 30-May-19 10:00 AM
Q&A with: Gerlinde Waz
A por­trait of daily life and work in an African vil­lage. Seem­ing­ly untouched by colo­nial influ­ences, the inhab­i­tants are entire­ly self-suf­fi­cient. Eth­nol­o­gist Gulla Pfef­fer and cam­era­man Friedrich Dal­sheim found the … read more