I see the other

Homage DOK.fest München 2022: Heidi Specogna


CAHIER AFRICAIN, 2016, Heidi Specogna

Everything I could use for my later work, for filmmaking, I learned at the Jurasüdfuß. Most important: curiosity about the other, about the foreign. About the people who live on the other side of the ocean. The people who speak French. The people who come from the Jura. The people who visit us in transit. Here I learned to be amazed at the other, the foreign, and to ask questions.

Documentary film as an observation, as an experience means taking the viewers on a journey of discovery. To these others, to the stranger. In the words of Emmanuel Levinas: To meet a human being is to be kept awake by an enigma. 

The documentary film is able to do something. Not the individual documentary film, I mean the spirit from which it emerges. It is a guide to inner places where human experience comes from. It puts us in touch with a knowledge of what is good and what is evil. In a sincere documentary narrative, we learn about interpersonal relationships, about universal ethical choices, about authentic emotions. 

Documentaries work through the power they awaken in viewers. About the urge to understand or explore the inner life of people: their values, their weirdness, their fears, the moments of their greatness. This desire awakens the political consciousness without which a turn for the better could not be initiated. Elias Canetti has an idea that, for me, touches the core of the art of documentary film: In it, Canetti distinguishes between two kinds of spirits: those that take up residence in wounds and those that take up residence in houses and entrench themselves there. In this image, the wound is the opening through which the other enters. The ear, the eyes that open to the Other. Heidi Specogna

As part of the homage, we will be providing insights into the artistic work of Swiss filmmaker Heidi Specogna in six films at the 37th DOK.fest München.

Heidi Specogna
© Anne Morgenstern


The films

Germany/Switzerland 2016, Heidi Specogna, 119 min.

Seen from the outside, the “Cahier Africain” is a simple exercise book. Flipping it open you get an uneasy sense of its historic and judicial significance: over 300 victims of sexual abuse and martial violence at the hands of Congolese rebels in the Central African Republic bear witness here. A contemporary document that goes beyond the simple reporting of conflict.


Germany/Switzerland 2011, Heidi Specogna, 91 min.

Shedding light on what otherwise remains unspeakable. Specogna accompanies the International Criminal Court investigators in The Hague as they work on the trial against the Congolese militia leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is being called to account for the systematic rape and pillaging carried out by his troops in Central Africa in 2002/3.


Germany/Switzerland 2006, Heidi Specogna, 94 min.

From street kid to national hero: José Antonio Gutierrez was the first US soldier to die in the Iraq war. But he did not sacrifice himself for his country. As an orphan in warn-torn Guatemala, he set out on the arduous path towards the USA in the hope of a better future, where he was tempted into military service in exchange for a green card.

The director will be our guest for a Q&A at the screening on Sunday 08 May at 11.00am in City Kino 2.


Germany/Switzerland 2010, Heidi Specogna, 94 min.

In 2001, the ferry of the national league player Jonathan Akpoborie hit the headlines because of the suspicion of child slave transport. Heidi Specogna reconstructs the story from all angles, whereby the fate of the children who were sold and traumatised by their parents at the time is more important to her than the actual question of guilt. How are they today?

The director will be our guest for a Q&A at the screening on Sunday 08 May at 6.00pm in Filmmuseum.


Switzerland/Germany 2021, Heidi Specogna, 110 min.

It’s a long and rocky road, but Nardos has her eyes set firmly on her goal. At a time when her country and her own life are in upheaval, the singer of traditional Ethiopian Azmari music wants to use her songs to give a voice to women who are often stuck with their hopes and dreams behind closed doors.

The director will be our guest for a Q&A at the screening on Saturday 07 May at 8.30pm in Filmmuseum.


Germany/Switzerland 1997, Heidi Specogna, 93 min.

Guerrillero, flower grower, member of parliament. The revolutionary Pepe Mujica looks back on Uruguay’s “Movement for National Liberation” together with Compañeras and Compañeros. They recall their time in the underground, torture at the hands of the military dictatorship and the biggest prison break in the world. A story of the eternal struggle for social change.

The director will be our guest for a Q&A at the screening on Friday 06 May at 8.30pm in Filmmuseum.


In cooperation with SWISS FILMS

Both the Masterclass at the DOK.fest industry platform DOK.forum and the Homage take place with the kind support of SWISS FILMS, which this year also supports films in the DOK.fest Competition around the VIKTOR DOK.deutsch: GIRL GANG, SCHWARZARBEIT, ROTZLOCH - ICH ZWINGE DICH NICHT, MICH ZU UMARMEN und DEAR MEMORIES - EINE REISE MIT DEM MAGNUM FOTOGRAFEN THOMAS HOEPKER