Programme 2018

A Tale of Two Islands

Director: Steffen Köhn, Paola Calvo


Section: The New Medium III: Multi-screen Cinema

Country: Germany | Year: 2012

Language(s): Shimaoré, Shinzuani | Time: 16 mins


Two islands divided by history: Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, which became the 101st department of France on March 31st 2011, and Anjouan, its African neighbour belonging to the Union of the Comoros. Both were once part of the French colonial empire. In the wake of decolonization in Africa in the 1970s, referendums were organized on the two islands. Anjouan declared its independence while Mayotte voted to remain. Since then, Mayotte has seen French investments into its infrastructure, education and health system, while Anjouan has had a history of coups d’états, political turmoil and economic depression. Encounters filmed in the ports of the capitals of both islands unfold in a precisely composed tableaux, as we witness the consequences of Anjouanais trying to clandestinely reach the neighbouring island in nighttime crossings on small motor boats.

Director's Bio

Steffen Köhn (b. 1980) completed a Master’s degree in anthropology and film studies before studying film directing at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin and at Columbia University in New York. He produces fiction and documentary films as well as more experimental video art pieces and installations. In 2014, Köhn received a practice-based PhD in anthropology. 

Paola Calvo (b. 1981) has studied audiovisual communication at the Universidad Complutense Madrid and cinematography at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin. In 2014, Calvo won the Best Cinematography Award at the New Berlin Festival. In 2018, she was nominated for the Michael Ballhaus Award for Best Cinematography, and won the National Award for Best Cinematography at the IFFF.