Starring: Juliane Kohler, Merab Ninidze, Karoline Eckertz
Director: Caroline Link. German with English subtitles.
NOWHERE in Africa is a very different take on the Holocaust, and it won this year’s Oscar for Best Film in a Language other than English.
Walter Redlich (Merab Ninidze) is a lawyer in Germany during the mid-1930s. He is married to Jettel (Juliane Kolher) and they have a daughter, Regina (Lea Kurka/Karoline Eckertz). They are Jewish.
Against the thinking of all his friends and family, Walter is convinced that the worst is yet to come for the Jews in Nazi Germany.
In 1937 he leaves for Kenya. In 1938 he sends for Jettel and Regina. Unprepared, feeling guilty and isolated, they run a farm in Kenya. By 1940 they are interned by the British Colonial Government in Nairobi. By the end of the war they are the only survivors of their families and they have to choose whether to stay in Kenya or go back to Germany.
There are several elements that make Nowhere in Africa such a compelling film. There is a freshness about the story of German Jews who departed Germany before the war.
Director and writer Caroline Link’s excellent screenplay, based on Stefanie Zweig’s award-winning novel, has depth, colour and power. There are several good turns in the plot, and almost all of them do not go where we might expect.
The three main actors give stunning performances. Walter and Jettel have to survive in a strange and hostile world, and then survive being survivors. Regina adapts as children often do.
Every African actor looks at home in this film. The locations are starkly beautiful, and Niki Resier’s music score perfectly accompanies the places and drama on the screen.