Around the world
THE PERFUME HUNTER – SWR & ARTE – 2008
Laurent Severac, 44, a Frenchman living in Hanoi, has a rare and adventurous profession. In the mountainous jungles of South East Asia he searches new or unknown organic scents for the international perfume industry. We were there when Laurent came across “Mak Truk”, seed pods of a wild ginger bush, in the jungles of northern Vietnam. Exciting, when the perfume hunter distils pagoda Melissa for the first time, which he discovered in the herb garden of a steambath at a Laotian pagoda. Adventurous, when he climbs the mountainous Laotian forests with an expedition to search for the world’s most expensive scent: eagle wood, three times as expensive as gold.
Laurent proposes his scent discoveries in Grasse, the international city of Perfume. The film immerses you in Vietnam’s world of scents, promising an adventurous journey and savoir vivre in what was once the old Indochina.
COLD, RISKY AND GOOD FOR KARMA – SWR & ARTE – 2006
With Hindu-pilgrims through the mountains of Kashmir
Spectacularly, every year up to 500,000 Hindus march through the mountains of the troubled region of Kashmir. The “Amarnath Yatra”, the pilgrimage to the cave of Amarnath, is the most unusual and dangerous pilgrimage in India.
In summer, when the paths are halfway free of snow, they are out and about: farmers, wandering ascetics, smart yuppies from India’s megacities. By the thousands, they make a pilgrimage through grandiose high mountains, sleeping in exposed tent camps, eating in makeshift high-mountain rest stops. Their destination is a lonely cave 4000 m above sea level. There, God Shiva once revealed the secret of immortality to his wife, according to legend. Deshalb ist die Höhle den Hindus heilig.
The film accompany four pilgrims. Premal, Abishek and Vijay are 19, 23 and 31 years old. With their uncle Mukesh, 40, a stockbroker, they travel to Kashmir from Bombay. The film shows the hardships, fun and religious understanding of the young men. It shows their fear of storms and terrorist attacks and addresses their relationship with Muslim Kashmiris.
1- Under the Red Star – Daily Life in North Korea – 2006 – WDR/NDR – 2006
Mainly through small portraits of ordinary citizens, the film tries to gain insights into the everyday life of North Koreans. In the capital Pyongyang, the “paradise of the working masses”, pensioner Kang makes sure that everyone in her apartment block understands the party’s decisions. And Mr Jon, a conductor, rehearses the piece “We will follow you forever” with his choir.
2 – Mission North Korea – Insights into the last “Paradise for the Masses” – 2003
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. This was supervised by eight German inspectors who – a condition of the aid – could move freely in the country. Surprisingly,our camera could com along. And we were the first television crew to be allowed to do something that is otherwise strictly forbidden: namely, to have “private contacts”, i.e. to meet ordinary North Korean citizens in their everyday lives.
German, french, english and spanish versions.
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
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. A crew of 15, plus Bruno the ship’s monkey and the ever-commanding Captain Kame Fumo sail cargo up and down the African coast, just like in the old days.
From the 11th century onwards, first Persian, then South Arab seafarers and sea traders settled on the East African coast, built trading towns, married African women and thus founded the Muslim and maritime Swahili culture. Suahel, an Arabic word, means coast. WaSwahili are the coastal people, KiSwahili is the name of their language, which became the lingua franca of the whole of East Africa. The “Swahili Coast” begins in southern Somalia, and stretches along the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania for 2800 km to northern Mozambique, where the monsoon ends.
Part 1: Kaskasi – From India to the Swahili Coast
Part 2: Kusi – From the Moon Islands to Zanzibar
Dhows, the ancient wooden sailing boats, were already sailing between the ports of India, Arabia and East Africa 2000 years ago; thanks to the winds of the monsoon. 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.
LIBYA – TRAVEL IN AN UNKNOWN LAND – BR & NDR – 1998
Two-part documentary about an unknown country.
For a long time, the oil-rich desert country was hostile to the West. Ghaddafi’s bizarre policies brought Libya the dark image of a “terrorist state”. The UN embargo (only recently lifted) further isolated the country. Thus, it has hardly been noticed that Libya has become calmer, more peaceful, has ended military adventures and is cautiously opening up. In 1998, we were the first television crew to be allowed to film extensively in Libya.