DER Documentary

Common Roads - Pilgrimage and Backpacking in the 21st Century

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by Tommi Mendel
color, 95 min, 2013
in Swiss, German, English, Spanish and French
with English subtitles



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While the label of 'pilgrim' is still mostly associated with devout persons leaving home with purely religious motives, young people taking to the road as 'backpackers' are generally perceived as adventure seeking globetrotters. Questioning these stereotypes, anthropologist and filmmaker Tommi Mendel followed two young women, one along the Way of St. James — a centuries old pilgrimage route — through France and Spain, and another backpacking through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Documenting their experiences and encounters over a period of three years, this film reveals intriguing parallels between what at first glance appear as two different ways of traveling.

Common Roads is Tommi Mendel's PhD-thesis accepted by the University of Zurich and was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.



Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, Bristol, UK, 2015
Trento Film Festival, Trento, Italy, 2015
Antropofest, International Festival of Movies with Anthropological Themes, Prague, Czech Republic, 2015
Ethnofest, Athens Ethnographic Film Festival, 2014
House of Religions, Berne, 2014
NAFA International Ethnographic Film Festival, Iceland, 2014
Days of Ethnographic Film, Slovenia, 2014
International Ethnographic Filmfestival Kratovo, Macedonia, 2013
Intimate Lens - Festival of Visual Anthropology, Italy, 2013
International Anthropological Filmfestival Ho Chi Minh City / Vietnam (Pre-Screening), 2012

Related Resources
Filmmaker Site

Related Films
Walking Pilgrims (Arukihenro)
Shugendo Now
Adventure High



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