In this film, I depict how I saw Paris upon my return from a seven-year sojourn with the Ovahimba of Namibia.
To the amazement and the disarray of such a return, was added the death of three close friends, Jean Rouch, mentor and friend, Didier Contant, grand reporter and soul mate, the Headman of Etanga, who had become the father of my life.
I renew ties with Paris, my homes town ever since leaving South Africa for exile in 1984, by returning to familiar places, of which places visited with Jean Rouch, as well as discovering spots hitherto unknown to me.
The necessary redressing of the honor of the journalist Didier Contant, who died in Paris before he could publish his investigation into the death of the Tibhirine Monks in Algeria in 1996, deeply marked this period. I trace the arduous evolution of this process that lead me to publish the book, “Le huitième mort de Tibhirine”, and to visit for the first time North Africa – Algiers and the Monastery of Tibhirine in Medea.
During this time, returning and mourning were inextricably entangled. My Ovahimba friends were constantly on my mind, as I was editing the films about my stay with them. Between periods of editing, I traveled to Algiers, Cape Town and Etanga (Namibia), filming all the while.
One morning overlooking the Bay of Algiers, I imagined an axis linking Paris, Cape Town, Etanga and North Africa, and hence the great circle of exile that started in 1984 was finally closed.
Paris, July 2009
Paris of My Exiles – A Chronicle of Our Times
In a timely blend of opposing and associating image and sound, philosophical ideas and everyday observation, Rina Sherman captures at once the specificity and the contradictions of Parisian life of the early 21st century.
For the first time, Rina Sherman turns her gaze on Paris, city where she chose to settle in exile from South Africa in 1984.
As Sherman journeys through Paris, drawing on an astute balance of everyday observation and the evocation of the larger issues of our time, such as racism and anti-Semitism, the obvious reference that comes to my mind is Jean Rouch – Sherman is a Rouch protégée – and his landmark film “Chronique d’un été”, co-signed with Edgar Morin.
An I-Fiction, a flâneur film par excellence!
Paul Kaufmann, Jr.
New York, July, 2009