• SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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  • SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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  • SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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  • SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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  • SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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  • SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

    SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

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SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

a film by Helmut Schulzeck

SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR

Kenya, Germany | 2011 | 87:00 min

Formal Categories

Migration Personal Point of View

Content Categories

Documentary
Synopsis
The film SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR (German title: Meine ferne Familie) is an autobiographical documentary about the director, Helmut Schulzeck and his relationship with Papa Wangechi, the director’s Kenyan father-in-law and his family. It shows in particular their understandings of each other despite cultural backgrounds as distant and as different from each other as those of Germany and Kenya. And the film reveals the difficulties that arise from these differences relentlessly. Papa and his family have a number of things not only to wish for but even to claim from Helmut. And Helmut wants to be a fully-fletched member of his in-laws. The film is a documentary about mutual otherness which despite an honest appreciation and curiosity for each other seems to be only partially surmountable.

Almost every year around Christmas Helmut and his wife Wagenchi spend a few weeks in Kenya to celebrate the festive season and to visit their children as well as the in-laws.

Several years ago Helmut married his wife Wangechi and her four children from her first marriage and all members of the extended family. He did so without asking her family for permisssion first. Instead they confronted the family with facts. According to customary law they were not allowed to do this. As a result everything Helmut has to do to make up for this failure to ask is now due gradually stretched over years to come. It is only now that he realizes this.

Nevertheless he believes that he already is a son of Papa by trying to understand how both the family and the still foreign culture work. However, despite mutual appreciation and understanding it is a disturbing astonishment that has taken over in their relationship at times.

Papa is a retired teacher and like many Kikuyu-men also a farmer. He lives on his farm with two of his sons, the twins Paul and John who also play a role in this documentary. Paul has a wish-list, also for Helmut. John is rather humble and content with his life.

During his visits to the farm Helmut is confronted with the family’s daily routine, their joys and sorrows, their wants and needs. He keeps asking them questions which they willingly answer, telling their ‘new son’ and ‘new brother’ respectively about their demands, their rights and their prejudices.

Year by year the relationship between Papa and Helmut has developed especially well and fast. It is based on mutual respect and the ability to look at things with a sense of humor. And it is here where Helmut has experienced again and again that the German culture and the Kenyan culture are worlds apart. Helmut does see the other being, he also sees the other system of reference, he believes to understand, but more rather than less often he does not or he may only find it more difficult to accept or just be more conscious of it than his African relatives.

During the expedition through rural Kikuyu areas the film documents “the back and force”-style of communication between Helmut and his African family.

Festivals/Awards
2011 Écrans Noirs (15ème édition), Yaoundé/Kamerun
2011 53. Nordische Filmtage Lübeck
Cast and Crew
  • Director Helmut Schulzeck
  • Screenwriter Helmut Schulzeck
  • Director of Photography Hans Albrecht Lusznat
  • Editor Ceasar Nyumba Lovejoy
  • Sound Hans Albrecht Lusznat, Helmut Schulzeck
Original Languages

German

Production Company
Helmut Schulzeck Filmproduktion
Herzog-Friedrich-Str. 79, 24103 Kiel

Phone: +49 431 673330

hschulzeck@freenet.de
http://www.schulzeck.agdok.de
Supported by
Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig Holstein GmbH
Germany
www.ffhsh.de/
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