Christoph Schlingensief 1960-2010
The African Twintowers (2007)
Duration: 29 minutes
Director Christoph Schlingensief
Screenplay Christoph Schlingensief
Directors of Photography Meika Dresenkamp, Patrick Waldmann
Editor Robert Kummer
Production Design Aino Laberenz
Cast Irm Hermann, Robert Stadlober, Klaus-Peter Beyer, Karin Witt, Norbert Losch, Dirk Rohde, Patti Smith
Producer Frieder Schlaich
Original Version German, English
Shooting Dates Luederitz/Namibia, October 2005
Christoph Schlingensief traveled to south-west Africa to the town of Luederitz in Namibia to shoot The African Twintowers – his first feature film in eight years.
Some of the shooting was done in the corrugate-iron "Area 7" township on the edge of Luederitz where Schlingensief had a so-called animatograph constructed to pursue his experimentation in "three-dimensional cinema" and "social sculpture" which began with his staging of Wagner's Parsifal in Bayreuth in 2004.
Since then, he has been developing a series of installations which not only dispel with traditional concepts of theater but also leave behind the familar actionist theater. For Schlingensief, the animatograph's revolving stage is "like a living organism on which the spectator travels, lives and becomes a part."
Described as "a shortened form of the Ring of the Nibelungen, interwoven with September 11, 2001, i.e. the quest for lost capital, passion and love", The African Twintowers also touches on such issues as German colonial guilt and the mythology surrounding the legend of the Holy Grail. Schlingensief suggests though that the film "is less about September 11 than about Africa. We talk about 3,500 people who were murdered on September 11. In Africa, 35,000 die each day."
The experiences with the animatograph in the African slum were then adapted by Schlingensief in a further installation erected at Vienna's Burgtheater this January under the title of AREA 7 - St Matthew's Expedition which also featured many of the actors from the film such as Robert Stadlober, Irm Hermann, Klaus Beyer, Dirk Rohde, Karin Witt and the American rock poetess Patti Smith.
For Frieder Schlaich, there was no hurdle to taking up the reins as producer for Schlingensief's latest enterprise. "With Filmgalerie 451, I have been releasing Christoph's films on video and DVD for more than ten years so we know and trust one another," he remarks. "Three years ago, I then produced a feature film version of Schlingensief's VIVA TV series Freakstars 3000."
Schlaich explains that The African Twintowers "does not follow on from Christoph's last films, but is rather the attempt to transfer something from his fantastic stage works to the screen. If we succeed in doing this, that will be something quite new for the cinema."
Apart from the challenges of filming "at the end of the world" in the Area 7 township, Schlaich also didn't have an easy ride on the film's financing "fighting against Christoph Schlingensief's image as a trash filmmaker and provocateur because his art and theater work haven't yet necessarily made an impression on film people."