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Sometimes home is where you least expect it

The embassy of Germany continues with screening of selected films on its premises to enlighten us with the cinematic art and craft of German films. Director Caroline Link’s film ‘Nowhere in Africa’ was screened at the embassy here on Thursday.

On the surface, ‘Nowhere in Africa’ is the story of a family. A rich lawyer is leading a comfortable life in Germany with his wife and five-year-old daughter. But how do you start the dramatic conflict for the film! Well, the family happens to be Jewish and it is 1938. The family must flee the Nazi regime and that is the beginning of the real story.

The family moves through two continents from Europe to Africa and land on a remote farm in Kenya. The time has come when they must face the harsh realities, far away from the affluence and comforts of their home. The rich lawyer must now sweat on a farm as caretaker. The wife is unable to compromise and become edgy on almost everything. The young daughter is the only person in the family who is quick to become part of the new setting. She not only begins to speak in the local language but also finds a new friend in the farm’s cook.

As the weeks turn into months and months into years, human psychology begins to show its effects and changes. The wife (notwithstanding her precious china and night gown, which she has brought from her good days) begins to settle down and make peace with the environment. It is now husband’s turn to disown the new life (a little too late for that!). They begin to drift apart.

‘Nowhere in Africa’ is based on an autobiographical novel of the same title. Acting by all three leading characters is tour de force. They show themselves as real victims of circumstances. Excellent camerawork is the highlight of the film, which brings out Kenya in the forties.

And now the direction. Caroline Link does not go for sentiments and tears. Instead of opting for a safe and predictable passage, which could even be heartwarming, she goes for complex emotions and focuses on bitter and difficult relationship between the lawyer and his wife. The radical changes, which appear in the family over a period of ten years, bring out pain and sacrifice.

‘Nowhere in Africa’ not only won several top awards in Germany for Best Film, Best Director and Best Camerawork but also became the top hit of 2002. And that is not all. The film was also acclaimed in the United States and won the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Foreign Film.

source: The News

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