Film Retrospective Michael Raeburn

Thu 23 – Sun 26 Feb 2012

retrospektive In
Film Museum Munich & Culture Center am Gasteig

Discussion with
Michael Raeburn:

(Auditory of the library 1st floor)
Curated by: Andreas Wutz

Organised by:
Film Museum Munich
(23 Feb 2012);
Andreas Wutz
(2426 Feb 2012)

Sponsored and supported by:
Culture Department of the City of Munich

Michael Raeburn

Born in 1948 in Cairo and grown up in Harare, Zimbabwe Michael Raeburn is one of the most versatile and renowned filmmakers of Zimbabwe. Like many others of his colleagues he had to leave the country for several times living in the Diaspora, due to the Zimbabwe’s long and chequered history.

His work as a film director ranges from feature to documentary film, which investigates by examples of micro-social or micro-economic changes the big switches of postcolonial societies in Africa or in the so-called Third World in general. Quite early yet as a student in 1969 he questioned and criticized the apartheid system of Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, opposing it publicly and through the release of his first film „Rhodesia Countdown“. As a consequence he had to leave the country for the first time continuing his studies in Paris and London. But besides working as critical filmmaker Raeburn started as a novelist as well. His book “Black Fire” from 1978 is based on interviews with Zimbabwean freedom fighters offering a profound insight into the background and circumstances of the 15 years long liberation struggle. Two years later, shortly after the birth of the nation of Zimbabwe and at the beginning of the government of Robert Mugabe, Raeburn returned. Zimbabwe became a role model for modern African nations. Its spirit of optimism and its euphoric atmosphere in the first decade of independence was also documented in Raeburn’s feature film “Jit”. However in the middle of the 1990s the situation of the country turned again as the economic conditions of the country were becoming increasingly tense. Historical and ethnic sores started to get reopened again and the raising political and social repressions finally became unbearable. Startled by this Raeburn reacted with his documentary “Zimbabwe Countdown” in 2003 – and better left for a second time.

Michael Raeburn (photo: David Ignaszewski)

His work in the Diaspora however continued to the deal with the social political subjects that he had explored already in Zimbabwe and that he considered as crucial as well for other African countries or for their perception from outside. He realized documentaries, television features and short radio plays then in Tanzania, South Africa and elsewhere in Africa until the year 2008 when his feature film “Triomf” was released. “Triomf” is a rather scathing, but not cold-hearted satire about a family during the time of the transition from apartheid to post-apartheid. Filmed and situated in Johannesburg the story easily can be imagined in Harare as well.

In 2011, after another change of the political situation caused by the so called unity government formed by president Mugabe and the leader of the opposition party Tsvangirai, Michael Raeburn could travel again back to Zimbabwe and will start a new film project there in the end of this year.

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