Eyewitnesses in Foreign Countries
An authentic film-experiment in 600 takes, 3 seconds each.
A European´s private images in Africa and an African´s in Europe.
A mutual perception of the one´s and the other´s native place.
As a child I pictured an oasis to myself as a small lake surrounded by palms, with nothing but sand dunes around it. Only when I first visited an oasis ten years ago, did I have to realise that my picture was wrong. In a similar way this happened to me with almost all those exotic pictures of travel lust impressed on my mind by children´s books, travel folders and motives on bank notes. I was quite surprised when I discovered pictures of snowcapped mountains including alpine huts and lakes in many cafès in North Africa. These pictures, like my own in the oasis, immediately exposed to me such false identities one people establishes of another country, another culture, another people, and which is maintained as scenery for foreigners all over the world to avoid "dis"-illusions.
Precisely these "dis"-illusions opened my eyes. Every foreigner who´s looking for more than the satisfaction of his voyeurism or the fulfillment of clichès, and who interprets his stay in foreign countries as a creative discussion with the unknown, as an opportunity to mutual acquaintance and understanding, is just because of this perception of authentic and individual images capable of respecting foreign people and cultures. In this way he could probably contribute to one of the most important subjects of our times, international understanding and integration. This film-experiment deals with the search and the capture of such authentic and individual images of foreign countries.
1992–93, Deutsch directed an essay film in Vienna and Figuig with Morrocan Mostafa Tabbou. Two filmmakers gaze on foreign territory: one is a European in Africa, the other an African in Europe. The African part directed by Deutsch inversely mirrors the Viennese part realized by Tabbou: heat versus cold, light versus darkness, professional versus amateur filmmaker. Deutsch and Tabbou only see eye to eye in terms of the distance they keep to the world they are shooting: One can only view the foreign from afar.