“Not without us!”

The cinema documentary "Not Without Us!"tells of the sometimes adventurous school journeys of 16 children all over the world. Director Klausmann and actor Sittler on our site conversation…

Interviewer: Mrs. Klausmann, what was your way to school like in the old days??

Sigrid Klausmann (director): I come from the Black Forest and started school early when I was just under six years old. My way to school was almost three kilometers long. My parents had no car. Sometimes the snowplow was not there in winter when we had to leave early in the morning. When I went to school with my girlfriend, we made up endless stories. That was an intense togetherness. On the way home we were often hungry and hoped a car would give us a ride.

Walter Sittler (actor and producer): I had many school routes, because I attended eight different schools. I went to school on foot, by bus or train, and by bicycle … the last few years it wasn’t so insanely interesting, because I was in boarding schools – so there you went from one floor to another.

our siteIn your film, for example, Vincent from Austria is portrayed. He lives in a lonely mountain hut and doesn’t have such a convenient way to school…

KlausmannVincent is skiing down one of the most dangerous slopes in Austria, the Feuerkogel. And then comes a 50-degree hump slope, unbelievable, I could never ski down there. The first part of the slope is still groomed and has a ski lift. And after the mogul slope, a narrow path winds through the forest, to the right it goes down steeply, to the left it goes up steeply and there he and his father rush down because the father sees where there is danger of avalanches. The fog is particularly dangerous. Once they almost didn’t make it out in thick fog. So, Vincent goes through a lot.

our siteFinya from Germany skateboards to school in a relaxed way. Children outside of Europe can only dream of this..

Klausmann: In Jordan I filmed with three Bedouin children riding their donkey across the mountains. They actually go to school all the time, but not in the winter or when it rains. There it goes so steeply down the mountains and the paths are partly very narrow… And of course it has happened to them that the donkey slipped and fell or that they themselves slipped. There are also snakes on the way to school. These children never know if they will arrive at school in one piece. Or also the way through the South African township. This is perhaps the most dangerous school route of all portraits, because there is a lot of crime, even against children. There are youth gangs, they stop at no one. Loniko, just before our filming, apparently stood in front of his principal in the morning and cried so terribly for an hour because he had obviously experienced something very threatening. But he did not want to talk about it at all. His mother does not have the money to pay for the so-called school cab that takes the children from door to door.

Sittler: And in Laos, the schoolchildren have crossed the Mekong River twice, and then long bus rides through burned forests. And there you realize, the children are strong. They just do it. Every day. That is very impressive.

Interviewer: Not all children have the chance to go to school, even though they want to – like Alphonsine from the Ivory Coast, for example. She gets up at four o’clock in the morning, goes to school… but not to school after all

Klausmann: Alphonsine’s story is definitely the saddest story in the whole film. She lives in a village where there is a lot of child labor on the cocoa plantations. Alphonsine is also affected by this. She actually goes to school. What she does there, the film tells. I think it comes across wonderfully in this film – the grace of the children, no matter what circumstances they live in. That grace as Alphonsine walks through the village with the box on her head. I can’t stop looking at this girl. These are not just children to be pitied, but on the contrary: they must be strengthened. There is no need to feel pity, but – if anything – anger at those responsible for making children work and not allow them to go to school or get only a rudimentary education.

Interviewer: In your film, the children are also a mirror for us, showing how we live. The preservation of nature seems to be very important to all of them..

Klausmann: All the children are concerned about the state of our planet. The boy from Laos, To, also drives through burned down forests every day. That’s a very big ie for him and for the people. The children we portray have a very high sensitivity and very fine antennas in society. You just have to listen to them very carefully. A viewer of the film told us: "When the children tell you this, without pointing fingers or sentimentality or reproach, so straightforwardly, it touches everyone.

our site: When the children are seen off, religion occurs only once: The mother lays a Koran on the son’s head like a travel blessing. Does faith otherwise not play a role?

Sittler: We have not added or left out anything. It was simple like this. In the next season, if we get it financed, one of the main topics will be religion, because the children also know about it.

our siteTheir film is called "Not without us!". Why?

Klausmann: From the children’s point of view, it’s clear: Without us, there’s no future. We adults are responsible for their thoughts, their feelings and their lives.

Sittler: Sustainability also concerns the children and young people who are now growing up. The best investment in the future is to give all children a broad education and self-confidence. We have to encourage them to take charge of their lives, because they can do the! With this film we want to make a contribution.

The interview was conducted by Birgitt Schippers.

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