Project Description

What do the pictures show, what do they conceal?

Togoland Projections

Nordic Film Days Lübeck, Germany
4 November 2023 – 10:15 am – Stadthalle 7
followed by a colonial city walk in presence of the director

World Premiere
DOK Leipzig
– German Competition Documentary Film –
10 October 2023

Shortly before the First World War, the “African explorer” and film director Hans Schomburgk went on an unprecedented film expedition to West Africa to shoot adventure and documentary films in the exotic setting in the north of the then German colony of Togo. These remain virtually unknown in Togo to this day. Guided by the travelogue of actress Meg Gehrts, Jürgen Ellinghaus travels more than a century later with a mobile cinema to original locations of Schomburgk’s films. Together with the Togolese viewers, Ellinghaus explores the historical context of the film images and the effects of colonialism. What do the films show, what do they conceal about “Togoland”, which was praised at the time as the “model colony” of the German Empire?

Something not seen before, an important meta-perspective on film and history. Magasin Opulens, Sweden, 17 Oct. 2023

director: Jürgen Ellinghaus
genre: theatrical documentary
duration: 96 min.
format: HD / DCP 5.1
year: 2023

French original title: Togoland – Projections
German title:
Togoland Projektionen

original languages: Ife, French, Tem, Mina, Bassar, Kabiyé, Anufo, Dagbani, sign language, Konkomba

with: Mensanh Degbe, Dermane Halassani, Abla Mawouvi, der Historical Cavalry of Chaudjo, Malou-Ouro Issa Touré, Griot Kanan M’bamanana, Zola DJ, the village elders of Adibo, Fammiè Kandjiné and her deaf-mute pupils, with the audience in Kamina, Sokodé, Bassar, Bandjéli, Mango, Iboubou und the Cinereflex meeting in Lomé

writer & director: Jürgen Ellinghaus
camera: Rémi Jennequin
sound: Caled Boukari
editor: Nina Khada
assistant director: Nassirou Saliou
camera assistant: Antoine K. E. Evolasi
sound assistant: Dieu-Donné Tchani
projectionists (CNA – Association Togolaise du Cinéma Numérique Ambulant): Joël M’Maka Tchédré, Essovalè Metcheri, Innocent Logdouti
driver: Koko Avisse, Herman da Silva, Koffi „Kaiser“ Kabouré
trainee (Togo): Espoir Tchani
set manager: Patrick Ayele-Yawou

commentary voice: Jürgen Ellinghaus
voice Meg Gehrts: Manuela Weichenrieder
English language coaching: Tim Lee
music: Eustache Kamouna

sound design & mix: Anders Wasserfall
color grading & completion: Arno Schumann
head of post-production: Denis Liakhov
assistant editor: Gaïa Rase Casanova, Pierre Mamolo
translations EN: Babelfisch Translations – Justin Hillier

production manager: Véronique Puvilland (Les Films de l’oeil sauvage), Henriette Degener (maxim film), Madjé Ayité (UGP), Günter Thimm (rbb), Gérard Claudel (Vosges TV)

funding provided by:
CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée
nordmedia – Film- und Mediengesellschaft Niedersachsen/Bremen
Région Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (with participation of the CNC)
Ciclic-Région Centre-Val de Loire (with participation of the CNC)
PROCIREP – Société des producteurs – and ANGOA
Fund for Audiovisual Innovation, CNC
Promotion Award of the Rendez-vous de l’histoire, Blois, 2015, with the support of the ECPAD, the INA, the Region Centre, with the collaboration of the Ciclic

The film screenings in Togo were supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lomé

commissioning editor: Rolf Bergmann, rbb (Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg)
producers: Frédéric Feraud, Peter Roloff, Madjé Ayité
French-German-Togolese co-production: Les Films de l’œil sauvage, maxim film, Universal Grace Production with and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg and Vosges TV with the participation of TV5MONDE

world sales: AndanaFilms – Stephan Riguet, Grégory Bétend

pictures on this site: © Les Films de l’oeil sauvage

Jürgen Ellinghaus on his film TOGOLAND PROJECTIONS

As a documentary filmmaker, dealing with Togo’s colonial past appealed to me in several ways. Firstly, there were these archival images, unique for the time they were made. On the occasion of my first trip to Togo, I learned that in today’s Togo they were known only to a handful of specialists in German studies or historians but were not only completely unknown to local filmmakers or the wider public, but also hard to access. I found this untenable, more than 100 years after the creation of these images and today’s possibilities of digital technology.

And I was surprised that, when it comes to Togo, the term “model colony” is still used, a dirty word that was put into circulation by German colonial propaganda at the end of the 19th century. At least two questions arise in this context: What can a “model colony” be other than a particularly efficient system of exploitation of human and natural resources? And: What actually happened under German colonial rule in Togo, behind this mirage of the “model colony”?

My impression after some research on the spot and dealing with historical source material and reading literature, some of which has only been published in recent years, was that a people had been cheated of its history for decades.

The reason that this was possible has to do with many factors: the after-effects of German propaganda beyond the 30-year German colonial period – both among parts of the Togolese population and among the British and French colonial successor powers, further with the division of German Togo between the victorious powers of the First World War, which also incorporated their booty territories into their respective linguistic spheres (today: Ghana, English-speaking, Republic of Togo: French-speaking). The linguistic and territorial divisions had far-reaching consequences for the population and led to a fragmentation of historical memory; they hindered both the transmission of historical experience between generations and historical research. Added to this was the fact that the archival materials of the German Imperial Colonial Office, which were kept in Potsdam until the end of the GDR, were only accessible to a very limited extent as a result of the division of Germany, and not least the instrumentalisation of a pronounced German-friendliness of many Togolese by those in power there after independence in 1960, depending on diplomatic or domestic political expediency.

Nordic Film Days Lübeck, Germany
4 November 2023 – 10:15 am – Stadthalle 7
followed by a colonial city walk in presence of the director

World Premiere
DOK Leipzig
German Competition Documentary Film
10 October 2023

World Sales
Stephan Riguet
Grégory Bétend