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A Long Way Home · 2018

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Documentary

A Long Way Home

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Luc Schaedler | go between films
CH 2018 | 73 | EN, DE, FR, Chin

The documentary « A Long Way Home» centers around five of the most significant representatives of contemporary Chinese counterculture: the visual artists the Gao Brothers, the choreographer and dancer Wen Hui, the animation artist Pi San and the poet Ye Fu.

A Long Way Home filmstill Red Detachement

With bravery and subversive wit, they each shed light on the social problems in their country from their unique perspective. What they share is a struggle to come to terms with their respective pasts, all scarred by violence and oppression. Their vision is of a democratic, supportive and humane civil society.

A Long Way Home takes us on a fascinating journey into both the grim days of recent Chinese history and the dazzling cultural scene in present-day China. In doing so, the film poses universal questions that ultimately concern us all: which values determine our cultural identity and in what kind of world do we want to live? A Long Way Home is an entertaining and moving plea for human solidarity.

«My exploration of China and Chinese culture goes back more than 25 years now. Since the brutal suppression of the Democracy Movement in 1989, I’ve traveled through China several times. I have followed its economic development and subsequent political and social upheaval with both amazement and bewilderment: What do external events, ruptures and changes trigger in people, and how does it impact their daily lives?»
Luc Schaedler

INTERVIEW with Luc Schaedler (04:30)
→ Statement director (alwh)
→ The protagonists (alwh)
→ Background (alwh)
→ Downloads (alwh)
(photos & presskit)

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Video On Demand

A Long Way Home · 2018 - go between films - video on demand

A Long Way Home (2018)
en, de, fr

 

→ click here  

 

→ Available in Switzerland

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For international sales
of «A Long Way Home» → click here

DER web logo for light background

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FESTIVALS

– Solothurner Filmtage (Switzerland)
Nomination Prix de Soleure
Nomination für Swiss Film Award
– Montréal, Festival des films du monde (Canada)
– Dharamshala Intl. Filmfestival (India)
– Cracking the Frame (Netherlands)
– International Filmfestival Innsbruck (Austria)
– Fünf Seen Filmfestival, Starnberg (Deutschland)
– EPOS Intl. Art Filmfestival (2020), Tel Aviv (Israel)

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LINKS

→ Wen Hui performing «Red» (Clip)
→ Nomination Swiss Film Award 2018
→ Swiss Films Promotion Agency
→ IMDb.com – A Long Way Home
→ Facebook – A Long Way Home

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PLAYLIST (10 Clips):

Gao Brothers, Wen Hui, Pi San, Ye Fu, original Kuang Kuang Clip etc.

A Long Way Home · 2018 - go between films - a-long-way-home-2018

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Luc Schaedler with the Gao Brothers in Beijing 2015


Angry Monk · 2005

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Documentary

Angry Monk

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Luc Schaedler | go between films
CH 2005 | 97 | EN, DE, FR, Tib

Tibet — the mystical roof of the world, peopled with enlightened monks? Only one of them wouldn’t toe the line: Gendun Choephel, the errant monk who left the monastic life in 1934 in search of a new challenge.

Material - Angry Monk - additional information - angry-monk-material

As a free spirit and multifaceted individual, he was far ahead of his time and has since become a seminal figure, a symbol of hope for a free Tibet. A rebel and voluble critic of the establishment, Gendun Choephel kindled the anger of the Tibetan authorities.

The cinematic journey through time portrays the life of this unorthodox monk, revealing a face of old Tibet that goes against popular clichés. The film makes an abundance of unique and rare historical footage available to the general public for the first time.

But it does not dwell on the past; rather it skilfully oscillates between tradition and modernity. Archival images of ancient caravans and monasteries give way to scenes of discos and multi-lane highways in Lhasa, where pilgrims pros- trate themselves as they circle the holy temple. ANGRY MONK offers a fascinating insight into a country whose eventful past is refracted in the multiplicity and contradictions of everyday life.

Ultimately, the documentary «Angry Monk» also tells the story of a man who left home to search for something that could have liberated traditional Tibet from its rigidity. An outsider who was always open to new things, he eventually became a stranger in his homeland and homeless in foreign lands — a wanderer between worlds.

(The documentary «Angry Monk» was also the main part of my Ph.D. in Visual Anthropology at the University of Zurich)

→ Ph.D.: ANGRY MONK: Literary, Historical, and Oral Sources for a Documentary Film (2007)

→ Gendun Choephel Conference at the Latse Library, New York

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→ Statement director (am)
→ Interview director (am)
→ Bio of Gendun Choephel (am)
→ Texts of Gendun Choephel (am)
→ Downloads (am)
(photos & presskit)

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Video On Demand

Angry Monk (2005) link to Vimeo On Demand

Angry Monk (2005)
en, de, fr

 

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PLAYLIST (9 Clips):

Unpublished scenes from Angry Monk · 2005

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→ FESTIVALS (selection)

    – Sundance, Nomination Grand Jury Award
    – Busan (Competition)
    – Vancouver (Competition)
    – Montréal, Festival Nouveau Cinema (Competition)
    – München DOK.fest (Competition)
    – Melbourne (Competition)
    – Auckland (Competition)
    – Solothurner Filmtage official selection

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    LINKS:

    → Film Review – San Francisco Chronicle
    → Film Review – Indiewire
    → Film Review – Phayul
    → More on Gendun Choephel
    → Swiss Films Promotion Agency
    → IMDb.com – Angry Monk

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    Poster of Angry Monk (2005) link to Vimeo On Demand

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    Luc Schaedler - filmmaker - go between films - producer - switzerland

    Luc Schaedler while shooting in Central Tibet, 2002


    Luc Schaedler

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    Filmmaker &
    Producer

    Short Biography

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    Luc Schaedler - go between films - luc-schaedler

    Luc Schaedler | *1963 in Zurich, Switzerland
    – Independent Swiss filmmaker and producer
    – Founder of the film production company «go between films»

    – Director and producer of «A Long Way Home» (2018); «Watermarks» (2013); «Angry Monk» (2005) and «Made in Hong Kong» (1997)
    – Invitations to international film festivals (selection): Sundance; Busan; Leipzig; Montreal; Locarno; Munich; Tel Aviv

    → INTERVIEW with Luc Schaedler – 04:30

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    CURRICULUM
    – 1985-2002 collaboration as program coordinator, film projectionist and barkeeper in the Off-Cinema Xenix in Zurich
    – 1988-92 travelled and worked in Asia | Barkeeper in Hong Kong and Tokyo
    – 1994-97 studied Visual Anthropology at the University of Zurich
    – Graduated with two documentary features: «Made in Hong Kong» (Master thesis, 1998) and «Angry Monk» (Ph.D. thesis, 2005)
    – 1998-2001 collaboration in setting up the children’s film club «Magic Lantern» in Zurich
    – Since 2001 various teaching positions in Visual Anthropology and documentary filmmaking at the Universities in Zurich, Bern and Fribourg
    – From 2006-08 head of the department of Visual Anthropology at the Anthropological Museum of Zurich University.

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    → FILMOGRAPHY of Luc Schaedler

    → Luc Schaedler’s thoughts on films about Tibet
    (German only)

    → IMDb.com – Luc Schaedler
    → Facebook – go between films

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    → go between films – contact

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    Luc Schaedler - go between films - luc-schaedler       Luc Schaedler - go between films - luc-schaedler

     

    → INTERVIEW with Luc Schaedler – 04:30

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    Luc Schaedler - go between films - filmmaker - producer

    Luc Schaedler by © Thomas Krempke, 2021


    Burial Rites · 2007

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    TV Documentary

    Burial Rites in change

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    CH 2007 | 32 | TV doc | German only
    Writers & directors:
    Mehdi Sahebi, Aya Domenig
    Camera: Mehdi Sahebi 
    Editing:
    Aya Domenig
    Production:
    go between films | Luc Schaedler

    Are cemeteries outdated? Are new burial rites needed?

    Burial Rites (2007) - TV Documentary - burial-rites-2007 - go between films Burial Rites (2007) - TV Documentary - burial-rites-2007 - go between films Burial Rites (2007) - TV Documentary - burial-rites-2007 - go between films Burial Rites (2007) - TV Documentary - burial-rites-2007 - go between films

    Certainly the demand for rectangular graves in straight lines is declining. To slowly decompose in the ground has a growing negative connotation. More and more people seem to ask for communal graves or wish their ashes to be scattered in special places.

    The city of Zurich had these tendencies investigated in a scientific study and made the results accessible in a touching TV documentary film.

    With surprising openness both young and old people discuss their attitude towards dying and how they would want to be buried – and thus develop new burial rites.

    «On the level of grave forms, a strong tendency towards community graves can be observed. Rational, aesthetic and ideological considerations play a role in the individual decision for a community grave. Changing family structures and the increasing mobility of society have meant that family members often live far apart. This makes grave visits difficult in many cases.

    In this context, the community graves offers a simpler and less individual solution than a traditional row grave: the relatives can visit the community grave, but do not have to, and they always know that the buried family member is not alone».
    Aya Domenig (Director)

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    Burial Rites – Trailer
    German only

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    Naga Identities · 2009

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    Ethno documentary

    Naga Identities

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    Camera, director: Luc Schaedler
    Production: go between films
    CH 2009 | 60 | Ethno documentary

    The village of Zanghkam in the Nagaland region of the Northeastern frontier in India certainly has a great potential for a long documentary film. But not as a remote mountain village untouched by civilisation with an intact indigenous culture. Rather the opposite: Zanghkam is a tragic example of being suspended between a lost tradition, a confusing and sad present and an unpromising future. The documentary Naga Identities tries to grasp this dilemma and make it comprehensible. Work in progress.

    «The twelve hours of footage were shot in March 2009 as part of a large research project on Nagaculture in India’s Northeastern border regions. Other products of the same research were the exhibtion “Naga: Ornaments and Ashes”, as well as the publication “Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India”. It contains a collection of articles by various authors spanning an enlightening ark from the warring past, to an equally problematic present, to a very uncertain future.»
    Luc Schaedler

    A traditional headhunter song from Nagaland · 2009

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    · Statement Director (alwh)

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    A Long Way Home

    Statement Director –
    Luc Schaedler

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    «My exploration of China and Chinese culture goes back more than 25 years now. Since the brutal suppression of the Democracy Movement in 1989, I’ve traveled through China several times. I have followed its economic development and subsequent political and social upheaval with both amazement and bewilderment.»

    «The deeper I delved into the country the more I learned about its grim history, the effects of which can still be felt in China today. Along the way one question has arisen time and time again: What do external events, ruptures and changes trigger in people, and how does it impact their daily lives?»

    «China also always inspired me to think about my own world. Taking a close look at another culture can cause you to see your own in a new light. This was a view also held by French ethnologist and philosopher Claude Lévi-Strauss who felt both encounters and confrontations with a foreign culture give us an opportunity, or stronger yet, a responsibility to look at and question one’s own society.»

    «In «A Long Way Home»  I ask myself from the perspective of a Swiss filmmaker, where the protagonists find the courage to expose themselves. How would I behave in their situation? How are we each shaped by our past? And finally: How is it possible that the essence of many of the existential problems they are confronted with seem surprisingly familiar to me, despite our vast cultural differences?»
    Statement director – Luc Schaedler

    Interview with Luc Schaedler in Dharamshala, India

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    Statement Director - luc schaedler - Statement-Director

    © go between films – Luc Schaedler filming the Gao Brothers in their home in Beijing, 2016

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    Filmtalk with Luc Schaedler in «Landbote» (by Irene Genhart)

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    · Protagonists (alwh)

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    A Long Way Home

    Protagonists

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    In A Long Way Home (alwh), the connecting element and main theme of the artistic works of  the protagonists Wen Hui, Pi San, Ye Fu and the Gao Brothers is a demand for the reconstruction of humanity throughout Chinese society. Looking back at their personal family histories, and thus recent Chinese history, takes on greater significance within the backdrop of their unease toward present-day Chinese society. Actively remembering is an important part of their work as they try to fathom the roots of present-day problems. Like researchers, they explore the possibilities of collective healing in their work. Luc Schaedler

     

    WEN HUI – choreographer | dancer

    In China, Wen Hui is considered the mother of modern dance. For years she has explored the topic of memory. In her current piece «Red», based on the propagandist ballet of the same name from the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), she processes the physical impact of this traumatic era.
    ALWH - Protagonists - go between films - ALWH-Protagonists

     

    PI SAN – animation artist

    Pi San is known to millions in China for his subversive animated film series, which have caused a sensation on the Internet. Through his mischievous cartoon character «Kuang Kuang» he exposes the injustices and absurdities of everyday life in China. In doing so he must constantly gauge how far he can go with his criticism.
    ALWH - Protagonists - go between films - ALWH-Protagonists

     

    YE FU – writer | poet

    The former police officer, who resigned in 1989 in protest against the suppression of the Democracy Movement, has made a name for himself in recent years with his autobiographical essays and blog articles which loudly demand political change.
    ALWH - Protagonists - go between films - ALWH-Protagonists

     

    GAO BROTHERS – visual artists | painters

    Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang, known internationally as the Gao Brothers, have been around since the birth of the modern Chinese art scene in 1985. They belong to the group of critical avant-garde artists whose work reflects the complexity of recent Chinese history and the «human condition» in a globalised world.
    ALWH - Protagonists - go between films - ALWH-Protagonists

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    · Background (alwh)

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    A Long Way Home

    Historical Background

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    The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
    Milan Kundera

    The Heart of Darkness

    The historical background of A Long Way Home is made up of two defining phases in recent Chinese history: the Democracy Movement of 1989 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. Beginning with present-day China, «A Long Way Home» moves deeper into the «heart of darkness» of Chinese history. The focus is on how people handle historical and biographical ruptures and how they process traumatic experiences.

    Cultural Revolution

    During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), systematic violence was employed to eliminate everything private and to destroy social relationships. Mao Zedong and the Party relied on betrayal, public humiliation, self-incrimination, and re-education in everyday life. Mistrust and deep insecurity continue to shape relationships among people in China today.

    ALWH-Background - a long way home - ALWH - Background

    Top Party officials are denounced during rally in Red Guard Square, Harbin 1966

    Tiananmen, 1989

    In the film, the Democracy Movement of 1989 stands in direct opposition to the Cultural Revolution. What began as a student protest in Beijing soon grew into a sweeping movement uniting people of diverse social backgrounds. The first spontaneous mass movement outside party structures, it showed initial signs of a possible civil society that would not be able to germinate until after Mao’s death.

    ALWH-Background - Tiananmen Tankman 1989 - ALWH - Background

    © Gao Brothers, Beijing: The Tankman, 1989 

    Outlook

    The violent suppression by the People’s Army was a clear sign from the regime that the protest was not welcome and that public criticism of the Party would not be tolerated – a condition that continues to this day.

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    · Statements Director (wama)

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    Watermarks

    Some thoughts

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    «Since the crushing of the democracy movement in 1989, I have followed the upheaval in China with equal parts amazement and irritation: the country looks like a huge construction site and seems to be involved in a precipitous search for itself. In this unstable present the protagonists are taking tentative but courageous steps into the future.»
    Luc Schaedler


    Statements to the film

    During the research for «Watermarks» and the subsequent filming in China I kept returning to a topic that had preoccupied me in my earlier films: namely, how people respond to external events, ruptures and life changes, and what this means to them in their daily lives. I took this question to heart in my new film and continued my search for answers. After Made in Hong Kong (1997) and Angry Monk (2005), the current film Watermarks · 2013 also marks the end of my Asian Trilogy.

    My relationship to China

    My relationship with China began over 20 years ago. Since the crushing of the democracy movement in 1989, I have travelled repeatedly through China. I have followed China’s economic development and the associated political and social upheavals with equal parts amazement and irritation.

    The social changes triggered by fast-paced economic development unsettled the people. They registered the growing pollution of the environment and water with concern. Entire landscapes as well as a part of their own family history and the cultural history of China were punctiliously ‘flooded’ by progress. My love-hate relationship with China is reflected in the ambivalence of many Chinese, who are simultaneously proud of and disconcerted by developments in their country. These are the contradictory feelings that I have attempted to capture in my film.

    The collaboration with Markus Schiesser

    In the project Markus Schiesser was responsible for the interviews with the protagonists as well as sound. To complete the research (2009/2010) and filming (2011), we travelled together for months through China and shared in the everyday lives of the protagonists. Markus and I made a good team. His relationship to the people grew out of his quiet ease and the fact that he speaks fluent Chinese. This brought him a great deal of respect. He was simultaneously an insider and an outsider. I was the stranger, as well as being more extroverted and louder. I had to build my relationship with the people through non-verbal means, by gestures and looks.

    In a cultural and political situation which treats the spoken word with caution and relegates most things to the deeper level of trust, we complemented each other ideally. Markus Schiesser studied Sinology and ethnology in Zurich and China. For over 12 years he has lived and worked in Beijing and Shanghai. He is married to a Chinese woman. We have been friends since the Zurich youth riots of the early 1980s.

    Our working method

    Water is the visually binding element in the film. Like a river, it flows through the individual scenes, stories and interviews. In China it makes sense to comport oneself like water. Wherever it flows, one lets it go, and wherever it is dammed, one gives way to it and finds another route. In this sense, time and patience are very important factors. What appears to be obvious whenever one works with people in a film turns out to be doubly important in China, for cultural and political reasons.

    In China, if you want to get close to the people, you have to give yourself a lot of time. It is a complicated but not unpleasant ritual, during which you spend weeks building up trust, step by step: a first conversation, a second one, drinking tea, smoking, chatting, eating together, slowly getting to the point and always coming back to another toast. The first contact, and how you behave at that point, is crucial.

    Statements director – Luc Schaedler

    WaMa-Statements-director - Watermarks

    Markus Schiesser, Chongqing

    WaMa-Statements-director - Watermarks - WaMa - Statement Director

    Luc Schaedler, Wusutu

    → Facebook.com/watermarksthefilm

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    · Shooting Locations (wama)

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    Watermarks

    Shooting Locations

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    Minqin (Gansu Province)
    Wusutu (Inner Mongolia)

    Both cities lie in the gigantic coal and industry belt that stretches for over 1000 kilometres west to east across northern China. In addition to the destructive exploitation of the landscape this region suffers from severe pollution and water scarcity. Despite all that – or because of it – both places were one of the most fascinating shooting locations I have ever worked at.

    Jiuxiancun (Guangxi Province)

    A small rice-growing village that dates back to the time of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1912). It is situated in the south of China, not far from the tourist-centre of Yangshuo, where rain is plentiful. The region is known for its iconographic landscape, consisting of innumerable karst hills rising above the rice fields. In no other province did the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) rage with such devastating force as in Guangxi.

    Chongqing (independent administrative unit)

    A booming mega-city on the Yangtze, the largest river in China. With over 30 million inhabitants, it is currently one of the most populous cities in the world. In recent years, it has grown with greater intensity and the city is in a constant state of upheaval.

    → Watermarks · 2013

    → Facebook.com/watermarksthefilm

    WaMa-Shooting-Locations - WaMa - Shooting Locations

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    · Downloads (wama)

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    Watermarks

    Downloads

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    ↓ Presskit (english)
    ↓ Dossier de Presse (français)
    ↓ Presseheft (deutsch)

    ↓ Filmstills

    → Click on image
    → Image opens in browser
    → 
    Choose «Save as»
    → Select downloads location
    → Save

    WaMa-Downloads

    Wastewater, Chongqing

    Wei Jihua Minqin

    Wei Jihua, Minqin

    Flood Jiuxiancun

    Flood, Jiuxiancun

    WaMa-Downloads - WaMa - Downloads

    Chen Chaomei, Chongqing

    Frontiertown Wusutu

    Bordertown, Wusutu

    Li Yuming Jiuxiancun

    Li Yuming, Jiuxiancun

    Wu Dengming Chongqing

    Wu Dengming, Chongqing

    Li Yunchuang Jiuxiancun

    Li Yunchuang, Jiuxiancun

    WaMa-Downloads - WaMa - Downloads

    Rice Growing, Jiuxiancun

    Fishrestaurant Chongqing

    Fishrestaurant, Chongqing

    Wei Guancai Minqin

    Wei Guancai, Minqin

    Fishing Jiuxiancun

    Fishing, Jiuxiancun

    WaMa-Downloads - WaMa - Downloads

    Fishingboat on the Yangtse, Chongqing

    → Watermarks · 2013

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    · Teaching Materials (wama)

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    Watermarks

    Documents for teaching

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    only available in German!

    → Click «Deutsch»
    above to your right ↑

    → auf «Deutsch» klicken
    oben rechts ↑

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    Teaching materials «Watermarks»

    Here you will find the materials for school lessons in thematic order for download (German only)

    The organization ACHAOS (Kinokultur in der Schule) has compiled a pedagogically valuable dossier for interested teachers with questions, suggestions for discussion and information material for school lessons.

    ↓ Dossier to WATERMARKS for school lessons (© ACHAOS)


    Additional materials to download ↓
    in German only!

    ↓ Dossier of Film (.pdf )
    Synopsis, statement of the director, information about the film locations and persons, as well as a list of the topics addressed in the film

    ↓ Geschichte Chinas (.zip)
    ↓ Karten & Texte zur Geographie (.zip)
    ↓ Wirtschaft & Entwicklung (.zip)
    ↓ Umwelt & Ökologie (.zip)
    ↓ Menschenrechte & Rebellion (.zip)
    ↓ PHOTOS der Protagonisten (.zip)
    ↓ PHOTOS vom Film (.zip)
    ↓ PHOTOS der Dreharbeiten (.zip)
    ↓ PHOTOS zur Umweltproblematik (.zip)
    Download the .zip files. Open with double click. In the respective folder you will find the .pdf documents of the texts and maps, as well as the photos as .jpg)

    → Watermarks · 2013

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    · Statement Director (am)

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    Angry Monk

    Statement Luc Schaedler

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    Why Gendun Choephel

    «The idea for the film «Angry Monk» originated during several trips to China, Tibet and India between 1988 and 1999. Without being aware of it, I travelled to the same places that the protagonist of the movie visited 50 years before. Since 1988 I have been studying the country of Tibet and how the western world perceives it. And I repeatedly came across the name of Gendun Choephel.»

    A wanderer between worlds

    «Gendun Choephel (1903-51) was a wanderer between worlds — at once a dreamer, a rebel and a researcher. He lived in a time that was decisive for the future of his country, between the British colonial invasion of 1903 and the occupation by the Chinese army in 1951. At that time Tibet wasn’t the inaccessible Shangri-La that people often claim, but a torn country on the verge of big changes. Tibet’s attempts to introduce a new social structure and to find its own way into the twentieth century failed because of the resistance of the conservative nobility and the monasteries.»

    Breaking the isolation

    «As Tibet moved towards isolation, Gendun Choephel was open to new experiences. We can trace his path through his writings, articles, pictures and sketches. He looked at his own society in a critical way, was interested in political issues and tried to apply them to everyday life; he was, therefore, the initiator of critical and intellectual thought within Tibetan society.»

    Becoming a role model

    «During his last years, Gendun Choephel became a role model for many young Tibetans in Chinese-occupied Tibet and also for those in exile in India. While their parents lost Tibet, the younger generation looked for role models that would allow a critical view of their own society. But the western world only slowly became aware of Choephel because his life story doesn’t mesh with our rigid image of Tibet, which prefers to portray Tibetans as victims rather than the makers of their own history.»
    Luc Schaedler

    Statement Director - Angry Monk - Luc Schaedler

    Luc Schaedler, 2018

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    · Interview Director (am)

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    Angry Monk

    Luc Schaedler

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    Interview with director
    by Till Brockmann, 2005

     

    Why did you chose the title «Angry Monk»?

    A monk is not supposed to be angry. The title is thus contradictory and provocative and that’s intentional; this contradiction is part of what the movie is about. The way the West sees Tibet has more to do with our own projections than with reality. Interestingly, in German and English there is a note of irony in the title which gets completely lost in the Tibetan translation. I found out that the title cannot really be translated into Tibetan. Apparently the combination of «angry» and «monk» is not planned…

    Why a film about Tibet?

    I travelled a lot in Asia and I often passed through Tibet. I first went to Tibet in 1989, shortly after the Tiananmen massacre in Bejing – during the time of the Lhasa uprisings. I also worked on Tibetan issues during my anthropology studies at university. A part of me is always on the road, seeking an encounter with all things foreign. My film is surely also the result of this personal interest, a way to give it a shape. But it also has purpose to actively participate in a specific discourse, the discussion that the West had long been having about Tibet.

    Why a road movie?

    It was the idea from the beginning. Somehow that’s the point of the whole story. Because in a broader sense the whole life of Gendun Choephel, the central figure, was a journey. A journey from the border provinces to the city of Lhasa. From there he went abroad and came back again. Apart from this outer journey, there was the inner journey of a man who, agile-minded as he was, always remained «on the road».

    And furthermore, as already mentioned, the film is structured like that because I got to know Tibet as a traveller, too. Finally, a last aspect, the film is a dialogue with the past which is also a kind of travelling, time-travelling so to speak: the film moves back and forth between present and past that mirror each other…

    What about a permission to film?

    I was aware from the beginning that the authorities would have informants and therefore always knew what was going on. Thus, shooting secretly and getting an official permit for a bigger project were out of question. For that reason I had the idea to work with a small and unobtrusive team; actually, just the cameraman Filip Zumbrunn and me. We behaved like tourists, like teachers who wanted to show the video material to their students back home.

    Partly we were shooting the usual stuff: markets, monasteries, like all tourists do… (smiling), but we were really lucky, too; if we had been searched at some point and they would have found all the many videocassettes, who knows… But even if the film is critical of China, I clearly never meant to make a film against China. What I am interested in is the inner dynamics of Tibet and in this regard China is just one of the factors. After all I’m critical of Tibetan culture as well.

    What do you mean by that?

    First of all, I’m very critical of the one-sided way the West looks at Tibet: as a spiritual refuge, an inspiration for the mind… some managers even go to Buddhist monasteries to prepare for the next round of globalization debates. A lot of damage is done by reducing Tibet to a peace-loving pseudo-paradise, perceiving it as «Shangri-la» with all the Tibetans having a spiritual message ready for us. I believe this harms the struggle for Tibetan indepence. Furthermore, I find the romanticizing of the past rather problematic, though Tibet gets idealized not only in the West but by Tibetans as well.

    For instance, hardly 5% of the people controlled the whole country and the mingling of religion and politics developed into an unholy alliance of the aristocracy and the monastic establishment. This prevented necessary reforms and a policy of openness. Such things are often forgotten. Gendun Choephel and many others as well, such as the predecessor of the present Dalai Lama, were open for change but they failed time and again with their ideas because of the opposition of conservative forces who of course defend their privileges.

    Was your critical approach intentional?

    Yes, of course. There are so many films full of admiration for the monasteries, for the lamaism and also for the nomadic society which has been celebrated as a remnant of an age-old, intact culture. Similarly, I dislike political reports that make us believe that Tibet is a destroyed culture and that any resistance against the Chinese is defeated or futile in the end.

    But the situation is more complex and indeed a paradox: on the one hand so much has been destroyed since the invasion in 1950, especially during the cultural revolution it was done with meticulous precision. On the other hand, the Tibetans prove every day that there is a life under the Chinese. They have preserved their culture and language, they have kept alive more than one thinks. For instance, many of Gendun Choephel’s writings and paintings featured in my film, have been preserved in Tibet. In this sense Gendun Choephel becomes part of this «survival».

    What I mean to say is that the Tibetans shouldn’t be perceived just as victims but as a people who have managed very cleverly to resist the Chinese and who will go on showing their subversive spirit. I never intended to make a purely biographical film on Gendun Choephel, but he serves as a key to the understanding of the history and the complex present of Tibet. Choephel was a man with many sides who had fought for change and at the same time remained a Buddhist all his life. He never turned his back to his own culture.

    I deliberately chose to have only Tibetans speak about Gendun Choephel in my film: old people who knew him and other Tibetans of a later generation. At the end I cut out all the Western scholars and Tibet experts whom I had interviewed as well…

    Why is the Dalai Lama missing?

    I did this on purpose. Probably it would have been easy enough to get an interview with him. But I didn’t want his presence to dominate the film and the other interview partners to be pushed to the background. No matter what he would have said about Gendun Choephel, it would have been a confirmation for many that the film is justified. I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to have this «offical stamp». In my view it is very important that there is a parallel discussion on Tibet which doesn’t rely exclusively on the voice of the Dalai Lama.

    AM-Interview-Director - Angry Monk - Luc Schaedler

    Luc Schaedler, shooting of «Angry Monk», 2001

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    · Bio Gendun Choephel (am)

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    Angry Monk

    A short Biography

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    Childhood in Eastern Tibet
    (1903-1927)

    He was born 1903 in a small village in eastern Tibet, near the silk road, at the Chinese border, in a remote region populated by nomads. This region was inhabited by Muslims, Chinese and Tibetans that were constantly fighting each other. The villages often were attacked and looted by warlords. In this explosive and mixed cultural climate Gendun Choephel started to be interested in his Tibetan identity early on.

    He received a traditional education as a monk in the most important monastery of the region, where he developped a friendship with an American missionary that the other monks and his family resented. In 1927 he left the monastery and moved to Lhasa with a caravan of merchants.

    Monastery education in Lhasa
    (1927-34)

    In Lhasa Gendun Choephel studied in Drepung, the biggest monastery in the world. His rebellious attempts to bypass the monastery’s rules annoyed the other monks. Ultimately, monastic life suffocated him too much in Lhasa as well and he left the monastery. Afterwards he survived as a portrait painter and artist for rich aristocrats in Lhasa. In 1934 he met Rahul Sankrityayan, an Indian researcher of Buddhist teachings who also was a communist activist for the Indian struggle for independence from British colonialists.

    Journey across Tibet (1934-1938)

    Rahul Sankrityayan and Gendun Choephel travelled together across Tibet searching for old texts that were destroyed in India centuries earlier but had survived in remote monasteries in Tibet. For Rahul, historical research is part of his political fight; for him researching history is the key to the present. Gendun Choephel was Rahuls translator as well as his mediator for Tibetan culture. At the same time the fascinating stories about India awoke his curiosity.

    Journey across India (1938-1946)

    In India, Gendun Choephel was confronted with a foreign world. For the first time he saw a railway and other technological achievements. India was then undergoing radical changes and, contrary to Tibet, the Indians took their destiny into their own hands. The fight for independece was at its peak. Gendun Choephel’s view of his own culture started to change; in India he experienced the most creative phase of his life.

    He travelled across the country as a Buddhist pilgrim, lived in the crowded city of Calcutta, saw the ocean, visited brothels and libraries, wrote his first newspaper articles and translated the Kamasutra in Tibetan, enriching it with his own experiences. He sent many of his writings, notes and sketches back to Tibet in order to convey his impressions of a foreign world.

    Return to Tibet (1946-51)

    In 1946 Gendun Choephel returned to Tibet passing through the Indian-Tibetan border town of Kalimpong which, next to British and Chinese agents, was a nest of radical Tibetans who fell out of grace with Lhasa’s government. In 1939 they founded the Tibetan Revolutionary Party. Choephel got acquainted with the party and designed their logo: a sickle crossed by a sword. The Tibetan Revolutionary Party’s goal was to overthrow the tyrannical regime in Lhasa.

    In Lhasa (1946-51)

    When Gendun Choephel arrived in Lhasa the Tibetan government was already informed about his political activities. He began to write the political history of Tibet but this attempt was abruptly stopped by his arrest. He was accused of insurrection and thrown in jail for three years.

    In 1949 he was freed. But his heart was broken and he drowned his desperation in alcohol. Soon afterwards the Chinese army overran the Tibetan troops in eastern Tibet and, in 1951, shortly after the occupation of Lhasa by the Chinese army, Gendun Choephel died. Supposedly he commented on the political events of his era in this way: «Now we are in deep shit!»

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    More on Gendun Choephel:

    Biography of Gendun Choephel by Donald Lopez Jr.
    (Chicago University Press)

    Short Biography of Gendun Choephel
    (Archive.Today)

    More information on Gendun Choephel
    (Rigpa Wiki)

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    AM-Bio-Gendun-Choephel - Angry Monk - AM - Bio Gendun Choephel

    Gendun Choephel shortly before his death, 1951

     

    AM - Bio Gendun Choephel - angry monk - am-bio-gendun-choephel

    Gendun Choephel, 1940’s

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    · Poems Gendun Choephel (am)

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    Angry Monk

    Some Poems of Gendun Choephel

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    On British colonialism
    Calcutta 1941

    Sponsored by kings and ministers
    the colonialists sent out
    a great army of bandits,
    calling them traders.

    They introduced
    new forms of living,
    but their laws
    were only good
    for the educated and wealthy.

    As for the poor,
    their small livelihoods
    are sucked like blood
    from all their orifices.

    It is in this way
    that the so-called wonders
    of the world were built,
    such as railroads and high buildings.

    I am an astute beggar,
    who spent his life listening.
    I know what I’m talking about.

     

    From his Notebook
    Tibet 1946

    In Tibet
    Everything that is old
    Is a work of Buddha
    And everything that is new
    Is a work of the Devil
    This is the sad tradition of our country

     

    The World is flat
    Tibet Mirror Press, 1938

    In olden days,
    even in Europe,
    the world was thought to be flat.

    And when some intelligent people
    claimed the opposite,
    they were exposed to various difficulties,
    such as being burnt alive.

    Today, even in Buddhist countries
    everybody knows,
    that the world is round.

    However in Tibet,
    we still stubbornly state
    that the world is flat.

     

    Foreword of his Kamasutra translation
    Calcutta 1939

    As for me
    I have little shame
    I love women.

    Every man has a woman
    Every woman has a man
    Both in their mind
    Desire sexual union

    What chance is the for clean behaviour?
    If natural passions are openly banned
    Unnatural passions will grow in secrecy

    No law of religion
    No law of morality
    Can suppress the natural passion of mankind

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    Gendun Choephel’s Poems
    translated by Donald Lopez Jr.

    (University of Chicago Press)

    AM-Poems-Gendun-Choephel - Angry Monk - AM - Poems Gendun Choephel

    Gendun Choephel, 1940’s

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    · Downloads (am)

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    Angry Monk

    Downloads – Promotion

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    Novices, Yama Tashi Kyil

     

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    Monk, Yama Tashi Kyil

     

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    On the Road, Tibet

     

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    Monk, Yama Tashi Kyil

     

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    Hindu Pilgrim, Varanasi, Indien

     

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    Filip Zumbrunn, DoP

     

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    Luc Schaedler, Director

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    research-at-doc

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    Anthropology

    Visual Research

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    research-at-doc: Luc Schaedler of go between films sees himself at the interface of art, film and Visual Anthropology. Since 1996 he has been involved in  various projects that conduct artistic, cinematic and scientific research using exclusively visual means.

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    Angry Monk (2001-07)
    Doctoral Thesis

    This visual research into Tibetan history and the biography of the radical monk Gendun Choephel had been designed as a bastard between art and science from the very beginning. The documentary film (90 mins.) is accompanied by a written thesis (2) critically discussing and contextualizing the research materials. It was the first film to be accepted as the main part of a Ph.D at the University of Zurich.

    → To the film «Angry Monk»

    → «Angry Monk» – a scientific discourse

     

    Made in Hong Kong (1995-97)
    Master Thesis

    A visual research project in the fields of urban anthropology, migration and oral history. The documentary film (75 mins.) is accompanied by a written text, that critically discusses the making of the film and the working process in the form of a handbook for students (3). It was the first film to be accepted as the main part of a MA at the University of Zurich.

    → To the film «Made in Hong Kong»

    → Made in Hong Kong – A Handbook for Students (3)

     

    Naga Identities (2009-11)
    as part of an exhibition

    The twelve hours of footage were shot in March 2009 as part of a large research project on Naga culture in India’s Northeastern border regions. Other products of the same research were the exhibtion “Naga: Ornaments and Ashes”, as well as the publication “Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India”. It contains a collection of articles by various authors spanning an enlightening ark from the warring past, to an equally problematic present, to a very uncertain future.

    → to the project «Naga Identities»

     

    Shamans of the Blind Country (2007-08)
    Digitalising a classic of Visual Anthropology

    Historical footage is mostly analog, the cinema of tomorrow digital: with color corrections, adaptions of the sound tracks as well as the reconstruction of the original order of the sequences Michael Oppitz’ ethnographic classic from 1978 was brought into the digital age. With Thomas Bochet.

    Poster of Made in Hong Kong

    Poster/flyer of “Made in Hong Kong”, 1997

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    Contact

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    go between films gmbh
    luc schaedler
    Tellstrasse 3
    8004 Zurich
    Switzerland

    EMAIL (→ Luc Schaedler)

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    Luc Schaedler © Nomination Swiss Film Award (2018)

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