"There is nothing stranger in a strange land than the strangers who come to visit," we hear the voice of the director say off-screen in Nkwumeatu, located in southeastern Nigeria. Christine Moderbacher´s literally "unbelieving gaze" emulates Chinua Achebe´s book, All Things Fall Apart, first published in 1958, as she comprehends the "real" relationships and reference points to red earth and white snow in their presence.

The tractor is a symbol of technical progress and simultaneously a crucial link in the longstanding Austrian Nigerian partnership: It refuses to shift into gear, whereby well-intentioned plans for mechanical support of the harvest fall into the remote distance. At the same time, multiple relationships of dependency resound: A collective trip to the hometown of the Catholic priest Sabinus awakens long dormant childhood memories of the male connoted, elemental power called God. Daddy´s daily ever more loudly humming VH8 camera captures this spooky malaise – the only refuge that can be found is in thoughts spoken off-screen. After two long weeks, the corn has been planted and it is not only Daddy´s tractor that is packed up. The familiarly crunching snow of home covers up what was experienced, while unobtrusively obtrusive messages arrive in letters - "Please can you take us to your country? Yes? No? Please!"- and fade out on the broken clay through which the red earth shimmers.

In a deeply personal, ethnographic examination and using archival material steeped in the history of the Biafra war, this film confronts (post-)colonial and Christian domination. Western humanitarian aspirations toward modernity meet with the longings in kids´ heads, but thanks to prevailing relations of inequality, these will presumably fall silent in an unrealized future. (Doris Posch)

Translation: Eve Heller

In the 1960s, the media pictures of the Nigerian Civil War shaped the notion of a continent. As was the case for Christine Moderbacher´s father, who decades later wants to help his priest Sabinus build a Catholic school in his Nigerian hometown. Joining them: the daughter and her camera. A personal father-daughter journey, and a cinematic diary about interdependencies and the incompatibility of independence movements and Christian missionary projects. (Diagonale 2018)

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Jury Statement ViZANTROP FESTIVAL 2019, Belgrade (Award)

The jury composed of Maša Seničić (president), Ivana Todorovic and Ivan Djordjevic (members) decided to award the film Red Earth White Snow to the Austrian author Christine Moderbacher in the "Community and Equality" category of the Vizantrop festival, believing it is a rounded realization that in a thoughtful way uses private and ethnological research versus archival material with a strong political message. A story portrayed through the prism of a personal relationship between a daughter and a father essentially examines a very complex reality in Biafri, a nigerian province where life is still defined by a civil war finished 50 years ago. The author extremely skillfully rounds out personal narratives and far wider contexts of colonial and postcolonial dilemma, examining the philanthropic efforts of white people in Africa and the essential, structural injustice that has taken place there, and is still playing. "Take Me to Your Country" is a sentence that remains carved after watching the film, roughly describing the only possible form of dialogue, which is also apparent and defined in the long-established principle of colonial gaze. In addition, the author´s dilemma of whether it is possible to be helpful and not deprive someone of freedom is among the key issues left to the viewers after the projection, concerning relationships in diverse structures: from church to political. Christine Moderbacher showed a distinct understanding of her own perspective, as well as empathy towards all the interlocutors and their positions. Her film language is complete, at the same time gentle and brave, and it contains theoretical and audiovisual autorous knowledge, but also the curiosity that is necessary for a serious anthropological visual research.
Orig. Title
71 min
Orig. Language
German, English
Christine Moderbacher
Josef Moderbacher, Chibeke Nklachukwu Anthony, Christine Moderbacher
Sofyann Ben Youssef
Stephan Sperlich
Marie Cordenier
Sofyann Ben Youssef, Salvatore Crisci
Sound Design
Bernhard Zorzi
Editing Assistant
Carolina Corral
Script Consultant
Iris Blauensteiner
Executive Producer
Christine Moderbacher
Moni Wespi
Pinanona Production
Sebastian Schreiner
in collaboration with
ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen
Supported by
Otto Mauer Fonds, BKA - innovative film, Land Niederösterreich, Zukunftsfonds Republik Österreich, BKA - Startstipendium
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264)
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
colour, b/w
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Wien - this human world International Human Rights Film Festival
Saarbrücken - Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis
Wien - ethnocineca. International Documentary Film Festival Vienna
Bergamo - Film Meeting Onlus
Belgrade - Vizantrop Festival (Winner of category "Equality and Community")
Belgrade - Int Festival of Ethnografic Film