Switzerland/Turkey/Iran/ Pakistan/Afghanistan/ China/India/Sri Lanka, 2008, 90 minutes
Sun, Apr 26 / 4:30 / PFA / NOMA26P
Thu, Apr 30 / 6:45 / Kabuki / NOMA30K
Sat, May 2 / 9:00 / Kabuki / NOMA02K
“One thinks that one is going to make a journey, yet soon it is the journey that makes or unmakes you,” Nicolas Bouvier (1929–1998) wrote in The Way of the World (L’usage du monde). Steeped in the writings of this Swiss traveler/philosopher—admittedly, in his thrall—filmmaker Gaël Métroz sets out to follow the road Bouvier traveled in 1953 in his iconic Fiat Topolino: from Yugoslavia, through Turkey, to Iran, then Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Whereas Bouvier had Thierry Vernet as a companion, Métroz is alone, at once author and observer, subject and object of his own journey. But time has marched forward (urbanization) and backward (politicized tribal violence, Taliban in the streets), and the East is unrecognizable as the world Bouvier described. So Métroz leaves the Topolino’s path for the hinterlands, trades car for camel, wine for opium, inns for yurts, peripatetic freedom for wheat gathering in deep valleys and sheep herding in mountains locked in snow until spring, philosophical musings for the hard work of “starting my life over.” Befriended by womenfolk he dare not smile at; living alongside the oppressed Kalesh, persecuted for “believing in this world, not the next”; lost in the desert and rescued by “untouchables”—at each turn Métroz finds, “I’d forgotten I wasn’t born here.” So, in spite of himself, he emulates the transformations of Nicolas Bouvier, who said, “If one does not accord the journey the right to destroy us a little bit, one might as well stay at home.”
In German and English with English subtitles. GGA Documentary Feature Contender. West Coast Premiere.