The first image is in black and white, upside down and projected into a black box that then becomes the frame. It now hovers like a time capsule near a man’s face. He looks down, listening in on a female guerrilla fighter and translating her words from Fulani. Within the capsule, money is counted and paid out as a new currency, the numbers of the years run backwards in the black box. A 16-mm film glides through the man's hands and is transferred to a laptop screen frame by frame.
Filipa César's Spell Reel is the result of a multifaceted research and digitisation project that she initiated in 2011 with Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes. Having studied film in Cuba, the two began using the camera to observe the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau (1963–74). After the decaying visual and audio material was digitised in Berlin, the filmmakers travelled with a mobile cinema to the places where the footage had originally been shot and showed it to audiences for the first time, adding their own commentary. They then moved on, also returning to Berlin. Spell Reel watches an archive at work to produce the present.