Strange New World
German film based on Jewish author's memoir about escaping
Nazi Germany to Kenya is up for best foreign film.
Africa revolves around the parents' strained marriage.
"I wanted to explore what makes a man and a
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
woman stay together, particularly in impossible
times," Link said. "For me, the most interesting
hen German writer-director Caroline
character is Jettel because I imagined how a pam-
Link read Stefanie Zweig's 1995
pered woman could transform into a [pioneer]."
autobiographical novel, Nowhere in
Africa, she was riveted by the unusual
Zweig, 70, said that while she loved the movie,
she was amused by the liberties taken with her
The book describes how 5-year-old Zweig and
"My mother was very spoiled, and didn't change
her parents fled the Nazis to Kenya, where the little
from the moment she stepped off the boat to the
girl fell in love with the harshly beautiful land.
moment she returned to Germany," she .said from
"In Germany we have so many Holocaust films,
her Frankfurt home.
there's the danger of audience fatigue if you repeat-
She said the scene that best describes her moth-
edly show the same stories," Link, 38, said by
er was the one in which
phone from her Munich
home. "But people don't
Jettel purchases an evening
gown with the money Walter
know so much about what
gives her to buy a much-
happened to Jews who
needed ice chest.
managed to leave the coun-
try in time.
"If you escape Nazi
Germany," Zweig added, "do
"They saved their lives,
but where did they go and
you think you worry so
were they happy? For
much about your marriage?"
Nevertheless, the author
many, the tragedy started
far away from Nazi
suggested only minor
Germany, and I wanted to
changes when Link, who is
not Jewish, sent her a' draft
explore this different aspect
of the [Shoah]."
of her script around 1999;
by January 2001, the film-
Her visually lush .
Nowhere in Africa, joins a
maker was off to Kenya for
the grueling, four-month
growing body of cinema
about Holocaust refugees,
On location near the
including the acclaimed
om "Nowhere in Africa"
remote village of Mukutani,
life mirrored art as torrential
Shanghai Ghetto (opening
rains threatened to wash away
in Detroit in May), while
the production's tent camp.
trekking where few such films have gone before.
"The mud was 3-feet deep," 37-year-old Kohler
In the movie, spoiled hausfrau Jettel (Juliane
(Aimee & Jaguar) said during an interview at the
Kohler) reluctantly joins her attorney husband,
Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. "It was hot;
Walter, on a sun-scorched Kenyan farm with
there were malaria mosquitoes, and big, poisonous
daughter, Regina, in tow.
snakes, like black mambas, and we couldn't leave
"I think it's fascinating that this sheltered, unad-
the camp without guards because of the lions."
venturous German family suddenly found them-
Nevertheless, she said, "Everything was like
selves in the middle of the African desert and was
what the character had experienced, which made
told, 'This is where you live now,"' the director said.
Nowhere in Africa, like all of Link's films, is also a the role much easier for me."
The cast and crew were rewarded when the
poignant study of an offbeat kind of childhood.
movie won five German Film Awards and was
Her Oscar-nominated Beyond Silence (1996) was
nominated for a Golden Globe and now an Oscar,
prompted by a newspaper story about a hearing
even though Link suspects the reason — at least
girl who interprets for her deaf parent, "like a for-
in part — is that the story touches on the Shoah.
eign minister for the family," according to the
"It seems like the Academy favors the
Holocaust," she said. "And the foreign film cate-
That film, along with Africa, features a compli-
gory, in particular, goes for that kind of big, emo-
cated father-daughter relationship, partly inspired
tional subject matter.
by Link's own bond with her loving, strong-willed
"I certainly don't want to complain about the
father, a retired restaurateur.
But unlike Zweig's best-selling novel, which is large- nomination, but it's too bad they don't go for
more innovative, radical kinds of films." ❑
ly told from the child's point of view, Nowhere in
Motor City Connection
Former Detroiter edits documentary
short subject up for Oscar.
Special to the Jewish News
ancy Rosenfeld Barber is not up for an
Academy Award, but a film on which she
worked is a nominee.
Barber, who grew up in Michigan, edited a film on
one of her home state's most stellar residents, Rosa
Parks. Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks, which
chronides how this civil rights legend refused to relin-
quish her bus seat to a white person in the South, is
competing in the category of Documentary Short
Subject and will be shown on HBO later this year.
"I drove 72 miles each way from Sherman Oaks to
a town called Ojai every day for eight months to
work on this film,"
says Rosenfeld, 39, a
writer-editor based in
California. "That was
how much I wanted
to be part of it.
"There were many
times when I thought
I couldn't handle it
any more, but I did.
Now, it's extra satisfy- A scene from "Mighty Times:
ing to see the film do
The Legacy of Rosa Parks"
Barber, a graduate
of West Bloomfield High School who attended reli-
gious services at B'nai David, earned her bachelor's
degree from the University of Michigan, where she
had a double major in art history and French. After
earning a master's degree in business from
Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., she
became a ratings analyst at MTV in New York City.
We did a lot of our own editing, and I left as a
producer," Barber says. "I moved to Los Angeles
and became a writer-producer for the Arsenio Hall
Show. My next move was to the E! network, where
I worked on marketing.
"I've been freelancing since then, mostly writing,
producing and editing TV promos. I've worked for
the Fox movie channel and the Disney channel."
Barber, the daughter of Ruth and Allen Rosenfeld
of West Bloomfield, worked with producer Robert
Hudson and director Bobby Houston to make the
Parks documentary, which uses a blend of archival
footage, re-enactments of events and music of the
times. While Hudson and Houston are planning
more civil rights films after being signed for a series by
HBO, Barber is editing a show for a travel channel.
"I think it's cool that both Rosa Parks and I have
lived in Detroit," says Barber, _ who worked at her
computer to cut 100 hours of footage into 42 min-
utes of film for the Rosa Parks project. "More than
that, I'm excited to be part of telling this story." ❑