Simply put, NOWHERE IN AFRICA is a beautiful, beguiling film that explores the essence of what is "home".
The film begins in the snows of Germany in 1938. Jettel Redlich (Juliane Kohler) and her 4-year old daughter are out for a day of sledding. Amidst the frolic, each is rudely knocked to the ground by anonymous fellow citizens. The Redlichs, you see, are Jews in Hitler's Third Reich.
Having suspected the direction that National Socialist anti-Semitism will take, Jettel's husband, Walter (Merab Ninidze), had previously given up his law practice and gone to Kenya to prepare ground for the family's emigration. He's gotten work as the range manager on a drought-plagued cattle farm. Despite the hardships, Walter writes to Jettel to come immediately with Regina and bring only the essentials and/or whatever the Nazis will allow them to carry. So, several months before Kristalnacht, mother and daughter take ship from Europe, leaving both sets of grandparents behind to their wartime fates.
Depicting a span of nine years and "told" through Regina's eyes, NOWHERE IN AFRICA examines the response of each Redlich to immersion in a vastly different physical environment and culture. Walter, the realist, embraces his new circumstances as the key to survival, even as his fortunes change multiple times over the course of the film. Jettel, arriving in Kenya a pampered, upper-middle class wife, learns the hard way. She's initially horrified by the heat, dust, dryness, monotonous diet, local customs, lack of genteel amenities, and the necessity of having to interact with native Blacks. Regina (Lea Kurka and Karoline Eckertz) copes the best of all, beginning with her immediate attachment to the family's congenial native cook, Owour, marvelously played by Sidede Onyulo.