I'd visited Ghana as a solo performer and really wanted to return. The opportunity arose through making FUTURE REMEMBRANCE – Photography and Image Arts in Ghana with Tobias Wendl.
One hot, still Sunday afternoon after that shoot, I was telling a colleague in Munich of my horror at seeing tons of missionaries in Ghana seeking funds for churches that he and I had never heard of – and never would. Suddenly the door bell rang. I opened to a dark-suited young man clutching a blue book. He wanted talk with me in terrible German about God. Um Gottes Willen, nein! His visit – just when I was relishing being far (safe!) from missionaries – made a deep impression. Months later, a goofy girl trying to strike up a conversation on the U-Bahn piqued my curiosity and I began my research. Eventually, on the eve of the millennium, I began the shoot.
I'd already spent 14 months running after young Mormon missionaries in southern Germany when I was presented to a big-shot visitor... Shortly thereafter, my guys stopped answering phone calls and appearing at shoots. Everyone shunned me. I had no idea why. I consulted a counselor on religious sects, read the recommended books – and then, my dear friend Hamood invited me to Sana'a to recuperate from an emergency back operation.
Before finishing the 26.5-month shoot for GET THE FIRE! – during a 6-month period when the missionaries had been ordered to avoid me – I had the chance to make a shorter film.
Years earlier, my Parisian neighborhood of Belleville had been graced with a mural: ANYONE CAN HAVE AN IDEA. Some time later, the wall warned: THERE IS NO ART WITHOUT FREEDOM. Finally, as the city was threatening to raze the immigrant working-class quarter, the message became: BEWARE OF WORDS. While helping defend Bas-Belleville, I learned to value strong images on walls.
I made IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK! Wall Painting in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the French-German cultural channel arte. My grandmother had had no future under English colonialism. I wanted to learn more about the conflict.
As I was wrapping WALLS, I received a call from the Munich Mission President who'd been avoiding me. He announced that my three subjects would be leaving in six months. He explained they'd been told to break off all contact with me, adding brightly, that that president had left, so we could continue!
After two years of research, two+ years shooting, one editing and another selling GET THE FIRE!, I took a big break before exploring other subjects – learning a great deal – that I was not able to finance as film projects. Then I recognized that I could use the Korsakow System to present my subjects in YOU HAVE A CHOICE! Israeli Anti-Militarists Speak.