Married to a Kenyan, the German born film-maker is out to reconcile two different traditions.
Helmut Schulzeck hardly frowns at black women. Since his heart was captured by a cute Kenyan, the German film-maker is restless. Helmut Schulzeck has produced two films on his love affair and the difficulties that go with. "So Close And Yet So Far" (2011) is his latest release.
The 87 minutes documentary was on screen last Thursday June 23 at the Goethe-Institute, in Yaoundé. The projection falls within the framework of the 15th edition of the Yaoundé film festival, dubbed "Ecrans Noirs" which ends today in Cameroon's capital.
"So Close And Yet So Far" is an infatuating love story between Helmut and Wangechi. He is a German film-maker who moves around the world in search of captivating images. She is an ordinary Kenyan, a widow who has to single-handedly bring up four kids born from her previous marriage. The two characters meet in Cape Town, South Africa.
In spite of their cultural differences, the two lovers decide to legalise their union. The marriage takes place in Germany, thousands of kilometres away from Wangechi's home. Then, one day, Helmut embarks on his family-in-law's home, in a far away village, situated 250 Km from the capital Nairobi, alone with his cameraman.
Is Helmut strong enough to face troubles first with the bad state of roads that lead to the village? Is he rich enough to satisfy his father-in-law as the family-in-law requests some 5 000 euros (more than CFA 3 million) as dowry, a modern European-style house, a car and plenty of money on their daughter? Does he gather enough arguments to challenge Wangechi's father, a retired teacher who intends to be the richest of the village as he now has a white son-in-law? No stone is then left unturned as Helmut tries to be a full-fledged member of that family.
Born in 1954 in Nortorf in Germany, Helmut Schulzeck first studied German and art history and archaeology in Kiel before diving into film-making. His very first film titled "Street cars" produced in collaboration with Peter Bartelt was released in 1986 and grabbed an award.
He later produced a series of documentary films like "Regina Blues" in 1994; "Ich bin kein wildes madchen mehr" in 1999; "Wood's care for" in 2002; "Jonusas- Himmel" in 2004 amongst others. Then Helmut moved to Africa where he produced "Du bist mein Afrika" (You are my Africa) in 2007. Since then, he is out to reconcile the two cultures and he claims that love has no borders. He also intends to let people know that being a Whiteman is not synonymous to wealth.
After "So Close And Yet So Far" the film-maker is now focused on his next movie, this time on Kenyans married to Germans and living in Germany.
"Ich Traum noch immer von der strassenbahn", 1986, 43 min, documentary, together with Peter Bartelt.
"Regina Blues. Der Kampf Um Ein Kino, 1994, 60 min, documentary
"Wo ist erkan deriduk?" 1995, 10 min, short movie
"Wiedersehen mit nidden", 1997, 38 min, documentary
"Kinderspiel. Ein jugendfragment", 1998, 45 min, SHORT MOVIE
"Ich bin kein wildes madchen mehr", 1999, 45 min, documentary
"Betreuneloecher", 2002, 15 min, short movie
"Jonusas-Himmel und holle, 2002, 65 min, documentary
" Du bist mein Afrika, 2007, 79 min, documentary
"Meine ferne Familie - So Close And Yet So Far", 2011, 87 min, documentary
article paru dans la revue Mosaïques (Yaoundé), - ÉDITION SPÉCIALE Nº 003 du 25 Juin 2011, page 5.
Dans le cadre de l'atelier de formation à la critique animé par Jean-Marie Mollo Olinga (FACC) et Klaus Elder (FIPRESCI). Organisation : les associations Arterial Network et la Cameroon Art Critics (CAMAC), en collaboration avec le Goethe Institut