RED EARTH WHITE SNOW
"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)
Jury Statement ViZANTROP FESTIVAL 2019, Belgrade (Award)
ROTE ERDE WEISSER SCHNEE