Exploring the Link Between Fictional Narrative and Documentary: SANKOFA

Spomenik: Podgarić, Croatia

Spomenik: Podgarić, Croatia. Photo: Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher

Kaleb Wentzel-Fisher is a cameraman, director and producer originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Now based in Berlin since 2011, Wentzel-Fisher has worked on innumerable projects, everything from music videos, to shorts, to filming a 4 hour long spinal surgery. SANKOFA will be the first feature film added to the impressive portfolio of work Wentzel-Fisher has managed to cultivate throughout his career. Alongside a talented team of writers, bloggers, musicians and animators, Wentzel-Fisher has already set the gears in motion…

SANKOFA explores “the link between narrative and documentary”. The series of interviews conducted for the documentary portion of the film are real, which will be in combination with fictional segments as well. “Without giving away too much, the woman in the film finds a crate that contains the contents of an unfinished documentary and the plot centers around her trying to piece it together,” explains Wentzel-Fisher. SANKOFA could very well speak to lovers of science fiction, if not based on the plot, but the amazing sculptures that brought so much information to the film.

SANKOFA

SANKOFA

“When I was teaching High School, I was reading some blog in a morning class about this Belgian photographer, Jan Kempenaers, and found this set of photos”. Wentzel-Fisher had stumbled upon a collection of photographs taken of monuments in the former Yugoslavia known as “Spomeniks”. “Since then I’ve thought about these things everyday”.Yugoslavia dissolved close to 23 years ago, yet there are still memories of the past lingering in its weighted history. Josip Broz Tito, the former president of the once unified republic commissioned the Spomeniks to be made in the 1960s.

SANKOFA. Photo: Kaleb Wenzel-Fisher

SANKOFA. Photo: Kaleb Wenzel-Fisher

These bizarre and striking structures are hard to define, yet they were erected to serve as memorials to the victims and horror of the Second World War. Many of these sculptures look like abandoned alien ships, left to decay for the last two decades, if they weren’t already dismantled by the government. The Spomeniks are a balance between architecture and something you may find in a museum. The intensely striking shapes and forms invoke a sense of wonder, but at the same time feel extremely haunting.

SANKOFA. Photo: Kaleb Wenzel-Fisher

SANKOFA. Photo: Kaleb Wenzel-Fisher

After moving to Berlin Wentzel-Fisher saw his opportunity to see the Spomeniks in person, and the idea behind SANKOFA began to materialize. “There was a moment when I was living here and I thought; I’m really close to these things, I need to go see them”. “Before I didn’t know what the film was, I wanted an excuse to go and see the sculptures and film them. I didn’t know if it would be a documentary or a narrative” explains Wentzel-Fisher. Following a map, Wentzel-Fisher and the art director for SANKOFA, Riccardo Falletta, rented a car and took a road trip through Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia. While driving along the southern coast of Croatia, with their map in hand, they passed by one of the sculptures without realizing. “It was an accident, we just drove by it-it was a surprise”. The first one they came across was the twisted concrete tentacles of Podgora.

SANKOFA

SANKOFA

They began filming between late August and early September of this year, and the film is already well on its way. A large portion has already been completed and a space has already been reserved in Berlin for actress Allie Hankins to come out and shoot some of the fictional portion. Over the years Fisher and Hankins have worked on many projects together. “The role requires her to be physical, because there won’t really be a lot of dialogue… “It’s going to be sort of an experimental film,” said Wentzel-Fisher.

SANKOFA is presently posted as a project on Kickstarter, and has reached 20% of its goal. It is an example of the incredible work being done in both Berlin and on a global scale, since the crew is planning to shoot scenes in New Zealand, Japan and the US as well. “We hope to finish the film in June, so we can submit it to festivals in July” said Wentzel-Fisher. Follow this link to learn more about the film, the creative process, and the amazing group of talented people working together to make SANKOFA a reality.

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