Series: Über den Inseln Afrikas



A film by Thomas Wartmann
© 2011 / 43 min (German+French) and 52 min (English) / HD / 16:9 / Stereo

Photographer Matthias Ziegler is an Africa specialist. He has visited nearly every country on the continent on assignments for international agencies. Zanzibar, however, is new territory for him. He's come to the former slave island for a photo book – and this time he's not alone. To see the Tanzanian archipelago from the air, he has enlisted the services of ultralight pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy of England to fly him around in his FIB, or flying inflatable boat. Perfect conditions for an adventurous journey: as a world champion ultralight pilot, Richard and his FIB can take off and land practically anywhere – in theory.

Their expedition begins on a dhow, the typical sailboat of East Africa. There Matthias meets the most famous singer in Zanzibar, the centenarian Bi Kidude, who sings a mysterious love song for him. Meanwhile Richard can't land at the airfield in the capital Stone Town because the front wheel of his flying dinghy won't latch into place. Instead he opts for a water landing off the nearby island of Chumbe. There they finally meet after a series of detours – and stumble across Matthias' first motif: swimming lessons for Muslim schoolgirls. They've never seen the ocean "from below" before.

The search for subjects leads Matthias and Richard from the old city of Stone Town and Nungwi to Zanzibar's largely untouched sister island of Pemba. They encounter boat makers and Sufi singers; discover "flying foxes", an endemic bat species; and taste the prized cloves cultivated by 108 year-old Aladi.

Matthias' speciality is portraits. It's important to him to capture the pride of the Zanzibaris in pictures. He goes to great lengths to win the locals' trust, at one point even braving shark-infested waters. For his part, Richard does his utmost to give Matthias the opportunity to find extraordinary perspectives from the air. And he does so in the face of stiff resistance – from storm fronts, gale-force winds and sometimes Tanzanian bureaucracy.

On their adventurous journey they explore the spice island archipelago to its farthest reaches – by land, by water and in the air. A journey full of extraordinary encounters, tricky situations and spectacular photographs. Director Thomas Wartmann and his team were on hand with their camera.



Directed by Thomas Wartmann
Written by Thomas Wartmann and Marcel Kolvenbach
Cinematography: Jörg Hammermeister
Editing: Verena Schönauer
Title graphics: Stefan Matlik
Sound: Stefan Tuchel
Sound mix: Tomas Bastian
Music: Nils Kacirek
Location manager: Marcel Kolvenbach
Production manager: Carolin Neubauer
Line producer: Markus Breimaier
Producer: Thomas Wartmann
Commissioning editor: Ulrike Becker, SWR
A coproduction of Filmquadrat.dok GmbH & Südwestrundfunk
in collaboration with ARTE.

Supported by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.


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