2009 Germany - Documentary Released to Cinemas and Festivals

Director: Bettina Haasen
Audio: Pascal Capitolin
Format: STEREO
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Production: Neue Visionen


Director's Note

The freedom and latitude with which we manoeuvre has long since ceased to be a given for everyone. For a number of years now I have concerned myself with the microcosm of those in perpetual waiting, of those continually living "ready to go" but trapped in inadvertent immobility.

Nouadhibou, in Mauritania - the last stop before crossing the Atlantic. It is a vacuum, this enormous departure area harbouring an innumerable mass of people from Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Nigeria and diverse other African countries. Only a small fraction of the African refugees that depart from here ever manage to reach the other side, manage to survive the ocean distance of roughly 1,000 kilometres. Their irresistible urge to "get away" and their unquestioned assumption that everything is better in Europe is what initially moved me, but soon that alone was not enough.

I sought an answer behind the obvious explanation. My goal was to go beyond the statistics, to look beyond the anonymous faces and stereotypical images of stranded boats and to gain a better understanding of what it means to live stranded and waiting, far removed from both security and family ties. Already departed, but not yet arrived.

A life on standby.
My aspiration was to make this continual condition of "inbetweenness" tangible through the documentation of image and sound; to make the very atmosphere of the condition perceptible and, in turn, achieve a greater proximity to the diverse facets of being in perpetual transit.

Each and all of us are familiar with the desire to reinvent oneself, to move forward in life, to remain in motion, to realize ones dreams. During my many years of research at differing thoroughfares and crossing points, I have witnessed numerous biographies and fates that have confronted me with my own taken-for-granted freedom. The people that I have met have a special "invulnerability": they have nothing left to lose.

Hotel Sahara, for me, is a location between the desert and Atlantic Ocean that houses provisional lives; dissipated existences that now possess only one thing: their dreams.
- Bettina Haasen