Thursday, February 11, 2010

Barefoot to Timbuktu

Showing at New York's Quad Cinema this weekend: Barefoot to Timbuktu, directed by Martina Egi

Synopsis from the film's website:

Araouane, a settlement in the middle of the Sahara, seven days by camel from Timbuktu…

In 1989, the once prosperous oasis was disappearing under encroaching dunes, when the noted Swiss/American artist Ernst Aebi passed through on a caravan. The population’s destitution leaves a deep impression on him. Trying to help them becomes an obsession for Aebi because attempting the impossible satisfies his quest for adventure.

Aebi, one of the pioneers in the transformation of New York’s SoHo factory spaces to lofts, stays for three years in the desert and becomes so engrossed in the project that he is willing to bury his capital there. Under his guidance, the village awakens to a new life: a productive vegetable garden, a school, and even a small hotel rise from the barren sands.

A civil war in Mali forces Aebi in the early nineties to escape “his” village. He leaves behind a blooming oasis and a family of friends who await his return.

Except for a few earlier unsuccessful attempts, almost twenty years pass until Aebi is finally able to get back. On a journey between hope and doubt.

Barefoot to Timbuktu
cleverly weaves archival and new material into a fascinating portrait of an out-of-the-ordinary Swiss/American swashbuckler.

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