Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

The White Masai 2005

Die Weiße Massai

Directed by Hermine Huntgeburth

The amazingly true romantic adventure of a Swiss woman who marries a Massai warrior and lives with him in his mud hut in the Kenyan bush.

Germany In English and German with English subtitles
131 minutes 35mm / CinemaScope


Johannes W. Betz. Based on Corinne Hofmann's autobiography


Martin Langer


Eva Schnare


Niki Reiser


Nina Hoss
Jacky Ido
Katja Flint
Nino Prester
Janek Rieke


Toronto 2005


One of the year’s most sensual films kicks off with an unforgettable scene on a passenger ferry in Kenya. Beautiful blond Swiss woman Carola (Nina Hoss) gazes dreamily out beyond the railing, where her eyes meet those of handsome Masai warrior Lemalian (Jacky Ido). Not much longer than a heartbeat later, Carola ditches her Swiss boyfriend and travelling companion Stefan and decides to stay in Kenya to pursue Lemalian – even though she doesn’t yet know if he returns her feelings. With a premise so preposterous that it can only be true, The White Masai is based on the bestselling autobiography of Swiss woman Corinne Hofmann, who fell in love with a Masai warrior while on holiday in Kenya, married him and lived the life of a traditional Masai wife for several years. The couple’s first sexual encounter, though beautifully lit, is a textbook case of cultural etiquette clash and does not bode well for the fairytale romance that their immediate chemistry might suggest. What’s more surprising – and fascinating – is the ways in which the chemistry does persist, and this remains one of the more unusual and idealistic love stories ever committed to celluloid. For anyone who has ever felt tempted to run away from the confines of Western life, this film provides a thrilling, erotic and ultimately realistic glimpse of what it might be like to live the dream. “The exotic urban jungle of Mombasa – where the two first fall in love – and the tiny village surrounded by majestic landscapes where they make their home provide a backdrop that is nothing short of extraordinary… The White Masai is a gorgeous film of incredible beauty.” — Toronto Film Festival