13 years after his civil service in a hospital in Thiès, Senegal, Paul challenges his memories and traumas. With old video footage, interviews and animations he questions his role as a volunteer within the German system of development aid.

Director's Statement

'Xonko Nopp - Red Ears': These were the first words of Wolof that I learned in Senegal. An expression to describe white people because 'their ears turn red under the African sun.'

In the documentary RED EARS I reflect on my one year of civil service in Thiès/Senegal in 2010. The film is based on hours of immediate video observations during my stay in Senegal and a present-day interview with a Senegalese woman whom I met at the time. Memories of my work in a local hospital and my encounters with the German NGO are highlighted with animated scenes throughout the film. My mixed personal experiences as a young person over a decade ago are contrasted with reflections on Western development aid. Like many young school-leavers in Germany, I wanted to make a difference by helping the poor in the 'Global South'. Yet, my ideals were wrecked by reality. I made this film to question our Western perspective on African countries, as even today, foreign aid and multi-million donations are regarded as useful and altruistic tools to fight poverty. The documentary RED EARS challenges this paradigm by means of a personal narrative.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Paul Drey

Written by: Christoph Hans, Paul Drey

Produced by: Max Breuer, Nils Gustenhofen

Cinematography: Markus Ott, Paul Drey

Editing: Christoph Hans

Original Score: Clemens Gutjahr

Sound: Vincent Egerter, Lukas Reiter

Animation: Paul Drey, Shadab Shayegan

Cast: Madeleine Ndione (main interviewee), Sophia Drey (interviewee)

Nominations and Awards

  • Short Film Candidates 2023