1000Stories (2007)


Florian Thalhofer
going where the people live
vlog, DE, EN, unfinished
Goethe Institut

God is Pro Life

How does America tick?

I am an American. I realized when I was in Egypt. I noticed when I started to defend western values. And western values, from the perspective of Egypt very much look like US values. It is confusing.

My father died, 85 years old, in 2015. He was 15, when World War II ended. The Americans came as liberators to Germany, they brought democracy. My father joined one protest march during his lifetime. It was a peace march against the Iraq war. As an old man he traveled 400 km to Berlin to join this demonstration. My father did not understand how Americans could bring war to Iraq. He did not understand the Americans any more.

In 2007 I traveled to the States to find out. It was a bit naive, but I managed to convince BMW to borrow me a motor cycle and Goethe Institut to pay for gas and food. For 45 days I drove trough the heartland of the United States and did an interview with an American every day. Rural America is unknown territory even to many Americans. Especially to the Americans I knew.

This project was maybe my most enlightening and at the same time my biggest failure as I never got it finished. For the last 15 days of the trip, while still doing interviews, I did not publish any more stories on the vlog. I got scared. I talked to many people that I did not understand, and I saw quite a few weapons. Both made me feel uncomfortable, the combination made it worse.

Many years before David Lynch’s Interview Project I had a very similar setup with 1000stories. As part of the original project there even was an American journalist – Mark Simon – traveling  through Germany at the simultaneously. Looking at my home country with foreign eyes. But we were too small a team to master all the logistical and technical hurdles – imagine, this project was done at the time before the iPhone.

In 2017 I tried to go through the material again, reedit and republish it. I got to day 13. It was overwhelming but no-one seemed to care. One day I will finish 1000Stories. Then I will understand how America ticks. Understanding America is still and might be even more important – in a time when things get more and more confusing day by day.

{translation by Anja Tachler}