The film follows a young couple from the Danish countryside, who a hundred years ago left for what is today the northern Nigeria. Niels and Margareth Brønnum are the first missionaries in the area and their mission is to ”build a bulwark” against Islam. They are well aware they will not come far by simply preaching the Bible, so they have studied tropical medicine. And their medical practice is solely offered as a package together with their religion. We are following them over their first year in Africa,
where they manage to lay the foundation for a comprehensive system of Christian hospitals and schools, that is going to dominate the development of the society all the way till today, where their community counts around two million people.
From today’s African church we hear a critique that the missionaries brought a white Christianity with little understanding of the African context. Through interviews with Danish missionaries and African witnesses, who experienced the
introduction of Christianity, we gain insight to the part of the mission that was just as much about introducing a traditional European farmer lifestyle in Africa, with the individual at the centre rather than the community. On the basis of a massive film archive, shot by the missionaries themselves, the film displays the price the redeemed had to pay for the Christian lifestyle. The Redeemed is a complex story about good intentions, adventurousness and arrogance, then as today.
Charitable work is good, religion is bad. If you mix the two you are sure to get an explosive combination that will do more harm than good. That is about my starting point when I by coincidence am running into a huge film archive shot by Danish missionaries in Africa from the 1920s till today.
Here I find first hand reports of early encounters between whites and blacks. Here are scenes of white people having their tea and black people serving them. Here are white people driving their cars and black people watching. Everything is pictured as an almost divine harmony. Looking at it today is seems offensive and arrogant, or rather, that is what it ought to feel like. Because even today it is difficult for us to actually see the show of force and the superiority the images contain. Perhaps we swallow it together with: well think of everything we gave them? But are we Westerners not able to see beyond our cultural-Christian frequency, are our glasses so tinted that we cannot see?
The only answer is that it must be their religion that fuels them and provides that extra driving force to take that one step more.
When making a film you normally begin with an idea that will develop and evolve during the process. When the film is finished you look at I again and ask yourself what it was you managed to do. One of the last thing we managed was the title. Not until the film was finished could we see that we are all the redeemed. For good and for bad. And it is in the blind angle, where none of us can see that we can meet in spite of power, impotence, religion and colour of skin.
Working on this film I have been met with all kinds of different comments: whether it was sponsored by the missionaries or that I would push away any decent audience. The thing is we can only see what we already know. I we do not understand how the whites have suppressed the blacks we cannot see it. And in what way is it a problem that the missionaries brought medicine and education? Hospitals and schools are not objective concepts and the missionaries institutions are closely connected to Christianity and are being used as a powerful argument for the superiority of Christianity and the West.
Simultaneously during the process with the film I have had to battle with my own blindness and my own arrogance. Because how can I explain missionaries who in spite of all common sense are settling in the most remote and miserable areas with a clinic or a school? Areas where they never heard of Doctors Without Frontiers or other good NGOs.
If you feel like watching The Redeemed in your local cinema through DOX:BIO in Århus, Odense, København, Kolding, Frederikssund or Ballerup, please follow this link: Dox On Demand.
The film is available as DVD Blueray for 150 Dkr. + postage for private use, and for 500 Dkr. + postage for public screenings.
The film provides an opportunity for discussion on amo subjects:
- What is a calling and who pays the price?
- Is the missionaries knowledge og medicine a condition for their evangelisation?
- Is the role of the mission over?
- What price has the Nigeriam community paid for the mission?
The director of the film, Morten Vest, can be booked for discussion in connection with public and group screenings. Price, Sjælland: 1.500 Dkr. + transport, Fyn and Jylland: 2.500 Dkr. + transport.
For film and meetings with the director, please contact producer Ulrik Gutkin firstname.lastname@example.org / 4071 7277.
Pressephotos for promotion can be downloaded from our Dropbox
Teaser and trailer for promoting showings of the film can be downloaded directly from the video files above.
You can download press text, synopsis and director's notes from our Dropbox.
Duration 1:23 / 0:58
In order of appearence
Mrs Bongi, Rikke Vestergaard, Elisabeth Holtegaard, Nemuel Babba, Kaj Moslev, Mette Pilgaard, Gurli Vibe Jensen, William Lautai, Polycard Mujong, Auballa Filibus, Clarkstone Bansi, Charles Binauto, His Royal Majesty, Honest Irimiya Stephen, Grace Akilla, Iliya Apladau, Irmiya Yamu, Jonah Ganbito, Ennoch Bedan Hombo, Emos Sunday, Kenan Shadrach.
Written and directed by
Robin Schmidt og Ulrik Gutkin
Robin Schmidt and Morten Vest
Japheth Habila Gapsiso
Additional editing, grafichs and VFX
Brønnum's diary read by
Anne Fabini and Joelle Alexis, Rough Cut Service
Anders Vadgaard Christensen and Maria Klarlund, Kong Gulerod
Martin Saabye Andersen, Ministi
Contributing directors and photographers, archive
Anders Faartoft, Leif Gustavsson, Alton C. O. Halverson, Jens Hebsgaard, Per Jensen, Arne Klit, Niels Thure Krarup, John Murray, James Normington, Thorbjörn Olausson, Arne Pilgaard Pedersen.
Rejoyce Agontara, Istefanus Alimanly, Esra Asawara, Kaja Babba, Nemuel Babba, Marna Brunebjerg, Jacob Brønnum, Ajuba Danjuma, Per Faartoft, Casper Høyberg, Amus Jacoubu, Dimga Jones Kadabiy, Lilly Krarup, Bodil Lautai, Katrine Madsbjerg, Heline Nicolas, Peter Fischer Nielsen, Poul Storm, Hans Wendelboe Bøcher and Angelina Watson. From DFI: Anders Riis-Hansen, Søren Tarp, Louise Haustrup Jensen and Lone Hey.
Special thanks to
Niels Thure Krarup
Produced with the support of The Danish Filminstitute, by Film Consultant Helle Hansen Danida
DR-K, by Commisioning Editor Flemming Hedegaard
Konsul George Jorcks og hustru Emma Jorcks Fond
WEB DESIGN: MORTEN VEST