Can you briefly describe what your film is about?
Hubert Sauper: “About” is always a difficult word. Maybe it’s about us, Europeans. I think WE COME AS FRIENDS is a kind of psychoanalysis of a collective pathology: that of colonialism, colonial mind-set, domination. The title is reflecting the deepest lie of our civilisation. But as sad as this sounds… the movie is a kind of dark comedy.
How did you get interested in the subject?
For two decades almost, I have travelled in and out of Africa, this continent which our European history is so deeply connected to. But I never make films “about Africa”. I am intrigued by this strange collision of people from around the globe in Africa. What interests me is how fantastic, horrific, and how transparent human stories unfold – at this beautiful place we humans originate from.
How did you develop the concept and style of the film?
The concept is this: describe the most difficult, most complex, most enigmatic collective stories (like globalism, colonialism, capitalism…) via a kind of “mini mundus”, a very reduced case study. That means, condensing what we refer to as “history” to tiny fragments of individual observations. To create small scenes which reflect the big picture – hopefully…
And style… that’s something that emerges out of the creative process, out of one’s life, naturally. We all have a style how to speak, or to walk, but hardly is that conceptual.
What was the most challenging aspect while shooting the film?
WE COME AS FRIENDS was obviously aiming to push all possible limits, to cross borders, break rules, open a new path of thinking. Everything was challenging: surviving in a “flying tin can” over a war zone, living in a rapport of constant bluff with a military apparatus, police and governments. It’s challenging even to find food or water, or a safe place to sleep at times… but maybe the most challenging in this “cloud of madness” was to stay mentally in balance, not to go insane.
When it comes to the European Film Awards in Riga – what are you most looking forward to?
This is my second time at the EFA, my film DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE won this great award some years ago. This time it feels like coming to a family gathering, or shall I say a “tribal meeting” of all of us who celebrate cinema.