Last year there were several films that dealt directly with the human psyche. This year there’s at least one that addresses the subject in a very personal way. What kind of cinematic language does the director Gamma Bak employ to explore her own illness?
Schnupfen im Kopf is a very brave, self-reflective film. The Berlin director talks about her own psychic illness, and at the same time other people express themselves about her and her story. They weren’t all interviewed by her, though, which allowed them to speak more freely. Gamma Bak has found a very good process in order to compile all the various perspectives on her illness.
Broadly defined, two films tackle the living conditions in the Middle East, with a very different focus: Soreret (Black Bus) is about two runaways from a Haredi community in Jerusalem while Aisheen [Still Alive in Gaza] shows the hopelessness of life in the Gaza Strip. Were these two films included together in the programme line-up by chance?
It’s not by chance. But I don’t see the two films as fitting together. Whereby, in previous years we deliberately programmed films from the Israeli and Arab areas together. The Israeli film Soreret is, at first glance, the more political of the two, because it draws attention to the radicalisation of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Israel. Through the focus on two dropouts it addresses less the geopolitical issues, than developing a very important private political perspective. Totally different is Aisheen. Not explicitly political, it has a far subtler approach, that functions through the viewer. This film doesn’t confront, it depends on calm observations made in the Gaza Strip. The result is new insights and perspectives – compared to other documentaries we saw, it took a very subliminal approach to the topic.
Contacts to world cinema
Besides Sunny Land there are two more productions from the African continent in the programme, the short-film collection Congo in Four Acts and Imani by the Campus alumna Caroline Kamya. In general, from your point of view, does one see interesting new developments in African cinema or are these films exceptions?