COLD, RISKY AND GOOD FOR KARMA - SWR + ARTE - 2006
with Hindu Pilgrims through the Montains of Kashmir
Dig. Betacam, 43 Min.
Every summer it attracts up to 500.000 Hindus. Their path leads over a 5000 meter high mountain, through the Kashmir range, into Amarnath valley. Their destination is a cave, in which they worship a stalagmite of ice, a lingam, Lord Shiva’s symbol. Once in a life a Hindu should have visited the cave.
The documentary accompanies four pilgrims, Premal, Abishek and Vijay are 19, 23 and 31 years old. Together with their uncle Mukesh, a stockbroker of 40 years, they start their journey from Bombay to Kashmir.
Business people and farmers, students and Sadhus, from all parts of India, young folks and old people alike – to the thousand they are trekking the magnificent mountains.
The "Amarnath Yatra" is definitely the most spectacular, striking and dangerous of all Indian pilgrimages.
MARITIM INDIA – Searching for the trails - SWR + ARTE - 2003
3 films of 43 min.or 52 min., Digital Beta, 16:9
For more than 4000 years Indian vessels have been sailing the seas, known as the Indian Ocean. Seamen from Arabia, China and Europe have landed in India's harbours.
Where spices and precious stones, silk and cotton cloth were traded, merchants and rajas were benefiting mutually. The profits from these enterprises were invested in the hinterland and contributed to wealth, architecture and the advanced civilisation of various empires.
Even in India this ancient maritime history is not at all well known and hardly researched. However, in the last few years the country has opened up again and India is rediscovering her coasts and the importance of ports and sea trade.
The films follow India’s coastline: 5.600 kilometres, passing different landscapes and featuring varying cultures and religions. Moving by sailing dhow, by bus or by train, the three films meet people of the Indian coasts, people that live with and of the sea and the sea trade. These people are the focal points of the series.
The world's last old-style communist country is a secluded terra incognita - cut off, politically isolated and dramatically impoverished. Pyongyang brings about a Cold War atmosphere. The drill of militias, socialist high rises and soviet-style palaces. Giant murals and slogans praise party, leader and ideology.
1. Under the Red Star – Daily Life in North Korea - 2006
Digibeta 16:9, 43’30 Min. German, 52.00 Min. English
Parade grounds, huge martial memorials and statues of Kim Il Sung resound with the 24 hours playback of heroic military choirs. Particularly by means of small portraits of ordinary citizens the film tries to gain an insight into daily life in North Korea. Not all is depressing.
2. Mission North Korea – Insights into the last "Paradise for the Masses" - 2003
Digibeta 16:9 28’30 and 26 Min.
During BSE crisis, consumers avoided eating even sound, certified beef. Huge amounts of beef had to be destroyed. Instead, the German government donated the beef to North Korea. The meat of 130,000 cattle was distributed to six million needy North Koreans. Together with team leader Christoph Bürk we visited ports and warehouses, filmed in orphanages, school canteens and day nurseries. We travelled to impoverished province centres and to farming co-operatives in the country. The relief mission was a unique opportunity for a rare introspective into everyday life in North Korea.
LAOS - RIVER TAXI TO THE ROYAL CITY - BR + ARTE - 2004
Digital Betacam 16:9 Stereo 43’30 German and French
His river taxi connects villages and market towns in one of the most beautiful, but also in one of the most remote regions of South East Asia: Chanthi, 49 years old, is a captain on the river Nam Ou in Northern Laos.
Wild and hardly touched by modern times, the Nam Ou flows through a mountainous landscape. After 420 kilometres, close to the former royal capital Luang Prabang, the Nam Ou flows into the mighty Mekong. The film joins Chanthi on a three day boat ride to Luang Prabang during the time of the anual boat racing festival and portrays the captain and also some of his passengers: a thoughtful mountain farmer, a young woman clearing the djungle from unexploded bombs of the Vietnam war and the strong men of a small village, who want to win the boat races.
EVERY WIND HAS ITS JOURNEY – FROM INDIA TO ZANZIBAR - BR + ARTE - 2002
A documentary film in two parts about wind, dhows and cultural exchange in the Indian Ocean
2 x 58 min., Dig. Beta
25 metres long, the sail patched a thousand times, a vessel of the past: the "Swalihina" is one of East Africa's last great freight-carrying sailing vessels, following the monsoon and crossing the seas between India, Arabia and East Africa like in the old days. From November to May the "Kaskazi" blows south-westerly. Then the "Kusi" blows in the other direction. The winds carried people and goods, and also customs, ideas, arts and ways of life. This encouraged the development of an African-Arabic culture along the East African coastline, shaped by trade, the wind and Islam: Swahili.
Sailing on the Swalihina, the films show today's life in the ports and along the coastline focussing on the Swahili coast in East Africa and are interested in the people along the route. The films follow the winds and the remaining dhow trade.
THREE WAYS TO SAMARKAND - BR + ARTE - 2000
Series of 3X60 min. documentary films on Central Asia, produced on Dig. Beta .
Samarkand, in the heart of Central Asia: land of shining blue cupolas and towering minarets, tales of astrologer princes and cruel khans, of algebra and 1001 nights, Samarkand, the splendid capital of the world ruler Timur. Samarkand stands for history and stories, for Islamic architecture and legendary riches guarded by deserts, seemingly endless grasslands and the icy mountain passes of the Pamir range.
Film 1: "Following the Prophet" ... approaches Samarkand from the West through the desert of Turkmenistan and deals with the islamisation and nature of Islam in Central Asia.
Film 2: "Following the Silk" ... coming from the East over the icy mountain passes of the Pamir range, the film shows how trade on the Silk Road has influenced Central Asian culture.
Film 3: "Following the Horsemen" ... beginning In the North of Central Asia along the Russian border in Siberia, the film leads through the endless steppes of Kazakhstan to Samarkand, "following the horsemen".
Repeatedly, the films will pause to submerge into the deep history, telling of the world ruler Timur, Arabic armies and the times of the Silk Road. They will then surface to tell stories of sericulture, the trade with China, the troubles of Tajikistan, the opera in Tashkent, Islamic architecture, horseback fights, the railway and everyday life in a mahalla, an Islamic neighbourhood.
LIBYA – TRAVEL IN AN UNKNOWN LAND - BR + NDR - 1998
2 x 60 min., Beta SP and 16 mm
For a long time Libya's attitude towards the West had been hostile. And Ghaddafi's bizarre politics gave the country a dark image. Additionally, the desert state was isolated even more by the UN-Embargo for many years. In 1998, Along Mekong Productions managed to receive the first permission to shoot a truly comprehensive cultural documentation on this extraordinary country between the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea.
Film 1 begins in the capital Tripoli and moves from the Mediterranean coast deeper and deeper into the Sahara. Film 2 starts right in the middle of the desert and leads slowly back to the Sea. The films feature grand landscapes and remote oasis towns. They focus on culture and history of Libya and they introduce everyday life, through portrayals of locals.
MEKONG - SWF, BR + WDR - 1995
Series of 4x52 min. films, produced on 16mm film and Beta SP, German, English, French, Japanese versions
Rising in eastern Tibet the world's fifth longest stream flows through Southwest China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam before reaching the South Chinese Sea. All big rivers of the world are well covered, measured, pictured, except one. For a long time the Mekong was remote and inaccessible for the western world. It was as late as 1994, when its main source was discovered in the highlands of Tibet.
The Along Mekong crew spent almost one year shooting the world's first documentary. They gained access to areas where no western film team had been before. Four films follow the river from the source to the mouth, portraying ordinary people living along the river, focussing on culture and ecology, as well as economical, political and developmental issues. "Mekong" was a comprehensive multimedia project. Nucleus was the production of a series of four films of 60 minutes length for the German public TV network ARD and for the international TV market. Furthermore, a one hour radio feature was produced, a picture library compiled and a Mekong exhibition organized. A comprehensive picture/book "Mekong" (1995 Marino-Verlag, München, unfortunately sold out) was published in collaboration with two photographers: Christoph Piecha www.piecha.org and Jim Holmes www.jhpix.com