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The African Twin Towers – The Ring – 9/11

GER 2005, 399 min

Lost in Namibia – a documentary about Christoph Schlingensief’s last, unfinished film – commented by himself.


10 years after his last film, Christoph Schlingenisef wants to give it one more shot: the location for THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS is Lüderitz, Namibia, the German South-West African colony. The script is about Richard Wagner, about 9/11, about Hagen von Tronje, about Hereros alive and dead, about ghosts of the past and the present. It is abandoned at day two.
What follows are 25 days showing Christoph Schlingensief at his artistic and image-generating best, gushing with ideas and concepts, attempting to find the right form of filmic expression after a decade in theatre, performance arts and visual arts.

THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS documents the full shooting period and is interspersed with actual footage of the never completed film, many of it shot by Christoph Schlingensief himself. Christoph Schlingensief’s voice over, recorded in Berlin three years later when he was already diagnosed with cancer, tries to assimilate what really happened on those eventful 27 days that ultimately redefined his artistic vision.

No work preyed on Schlingensief’s mind like this one. Fragments of THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS appear in several of his projects.

Content / 2 DVDs:
- THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS (ATT diary film – 2005-2009, 70 min)
- SAY GOODBYE TO THE STORY (ATT 1/11 – 2011, 24 min)
- Minox films Christoph – Schlingensief’s POV  (2005, 93 min)
- Animatograph construction (2005, 17 min)
- Christoph Schlingensief – Interview (2005, 9 min)
- Patti Smith – Interview (2005, 3 min)
- Animatograph designers Tobias Buser & Udo Havekost – Interview (2005, 5 min)
- Original screenplay, Fragments (2005-2010, 178 min)
- 40-page booklet with texts and photos


Rent or buy the movie on our Vimeo channel. For other providers, see “Watch Movie”.
Language: German

Awards and Festivals

- Berlinale - Forum Expanded 2008
- "Steirischer Herbst", Graz, Oktober 2 - 26, 2008
- The African Twin Towers - Starlift to Heaven - Mixed Media Installation by Christoph Schlingensief at Hebbel am Ufer theatre, Berlin: November 1 - 16, 2008

Additional Texts

Frieder Schlaich about the making of THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS

THE AFRICAN TWIN TO WERS was shot in October 2005 in Namibia as the third part of Christoph Schlingensief’s fourpart project “Der Animatograph”. It was supposed to be a feature film that incorporated subject matter from the two previous parts of the projects (Reykjavik, Neuhardenberg) as well as Schlingensief’s partially traumatic experiences at the Grüne Hügel in Bayreuth.
The original plot revolved around a delusional director with a showering compulsion who is sent to former German Southwest Africa to stage the opening opera for a festival not unlike the Bayreuther Festpiele. He falls in love with the festival organizer’s culture and life-weary daughter and starts to feel like he’s being persecuted by her parents, her brother, a confidential informant working for the “Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle” (Voluntary Self Control), a missguided development aid polity, and by the idea of an opera that he will never complete. The intended confusion in a script that merely consisted of a lose bundle of ideas was soon to be overtaken by the confusion on the set: After a dinner with the producers in Lüderitz, Schlingensief’s laptop was stolen by pickpockets – it contained the only version of the movie’s finalized script.
What followed were bouts of nonstop filming for days on end, without a steady plan and largely spontaneous. Schliengensief tried to reconstruct significant scenes (like the construction of a set in a township infront of the harbor city Lüderitz) while simultaneously shooting short remakes of his favorite movies (Fitzcarraldo, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, Stand der Dinge, Lucifer’s Rising et. al.). The film he had intended to make had taken on a life of its own. On the one hand, this was a total disaster for me as a producer. But what Christoph was coming up with day for day was so intense, exciting and insane that I firmly believed he would eventually be able to connect all loose ends. Turns out he wasn’t. The shoots and around 260 hours of film material were both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they came very close to his idea of a film that breaks away from its makers and develops an independent existence. A curse because Schlingensief lost control over the material. We couldn’t grasp it in its entirety.
But Schlingensief remained closely attached to THE AFRICAN TWIN TOWERS. Images and fragments popped up in his work over the next couple of years – like his installation at the Haus der Kunst München (2007) that spanned 18 monitors or the Berlinale Forum Expanded (2009). Whatever they are supposed to show, every viewer will have his or her own vision. Whatever they are supposed to say, every viewer will tell it to themselves. Phantoms of freedom. They refer to Schlingensief’s trust in our maturity as a viewer and his unconditional love of film, a medium he has always called home.


Director and Concept
Christoph Schlingensief
Irm Hermann, Karin Witt, Klaus Beyer, Christoph Schlingensief, Patti Smith, Robert Stadlober, Katharina Schlothauer, Björn Thors, Stefan Kolosko, Norbert Losch, Dirk Rhode, Christiane Tsoureas, Mohammed Ben-Wazir, Christin Appollus, theater group Lüderitz
Director of Photography    
Meika Dresenkamp, Kathrin Krottenthaler, Patrick Waldmann
Kathrin Krottenthaler
Additional Editing    
Sabine Steyer, Angela Christlieb
Hanno Leichtmann
Ending Song
"My Father" by Patti Smith
Costume Design and Still Photography    
Aino Laberenz
Set Decorator    
Tobias Buser, Anne Grumbrecht
Johannes Gaseb
Jerome Burkhard
Animatograph Construction
Tobi Buser, Udo Havekost
Construction Manager, Area 7    
Collin Elastus
Assistant Director    
Sophia Simitzis
Jörg van der Horst
Production Coordinator Namibia    
Werner Rawe
Production Manager Namibia   
Karim Debbagh
Production Manager Germany  
Christoph Amshoff
Frieder Schlaich
Produced by    
Filmgalerie 451
Co-produced by    
ZDFtheaterkanal, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Vienna
Commissioning Editor
Wolfgang Bergmann
In cooperation with
Volksbühne am Rosa- Luxemburg-Platz, Burgtheater Wien, Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Kunststiftung TBA 21, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Supported by
Filmstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg und Filmförderung B.W.
04.05.2009 at Prater der Volksbühne


"The African Twin Towers“ (ATT diary film – 2005-2009, 70 min – English subtitles), "Say Goodbye to the Story“ (ATT 1/11 – 2011, 24 min – English subtitles), Minox films Christoph – Schlingensief's POV  (2005, 93 min – English subtitles), Animatograph construction (2005, 17 min), Christoph Schlingensief – Interview (2005, 9 min – English subtitles), Patti Smith – Interview (2005, 3 min – English), Animatograph designers Tobias Buser & Udo Havekost – Interview (2005, 5 min – English subtitles), Original screenplay, Fragments (2005-2010, 178 min – Disc 2 without subtitles)
Country Code
PAL / Color
399 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
DD 2.0
Digipack (Set Content: 2), 40-page booklet with texts and photos
Release date
Info-Programm gemäß §14 JuSchG

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (2K, 24 fps, 5.1)
Blu-ray Disc
Aspect Ratio
Digital, 16:9
English (DCP, BD)
Promotion Material
A4 poster
License Area
Info-Programm gemäß §14 JuSchG