African Mirror

Mischa Hedinger
CH 2019
84 min

René Gardi (1909–2000) was a Swiss travel writer, filmmaker, and public speaker who repeatedly visited and filmed in Cameroon over his lengthy career. AFRICAN MIRROR combines footage shot by Gardi and various media appearances with his writings in voiceover to create a portrait of a man and his repugnant views all the more chilling for their careful expression. For Gardi, Africa and its inhabitants were pure projection, at once a chance to expound on his specifically Swiss take on racism and colonialism and a film studio where crafting the desired images (and images of desire) was nothing to do with reality. Hedinger’s assiduous editing also reveals how Gardi was actively celebrated for these views, his influence touching development policy, education, and culture in the whole German-speaking world, even reaching the 10th Berlin Film Festival, another self-declared “window on the world”. Time passed and Gardi became old news, his films criticized, the word neo-colonialism invoked, his “studio” now in other hands. More time has passed now, but have the words of Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe that open the film lost any of their urgency? “What we call Africa is a collection of wishes, longings and naïve fantasies. These are promoted, passed on and cultivated.” (James Lattimer)

In the presence of Mischa Hedinger.

  • René Gardi
  • Mischa Hedinger
  • Fabian Gutscher
  • Daniel Hobi
  • Mischa Hedinger
  • Philipp Diettrich
  • Rutger Zuydervelt
ton und bild

ton und bild

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