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Icarus Film
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Journey to the West
A film by Jill Coulon
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Taking its title from a popular Chinese folk story about the Monkey King who goes west for enlightenment, JOURNEY TO THE WEST follows the travels of everyday Chinese tourists going further than the Monkey King ever did-Western Europe.

In their own way, the tourists are also on the road to enlightenment. Traveling by bus through France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland in only 10 days, they have a whirlwind opportunity to learn about other cultures. Viewers are swept along for the ride too, observing the Chinese observing the West.

In Venice, the tourists debate differing perceptions of work ethic. One says that while the Chinese are consistently working for the future, Italians enjoy the present. Another wonders if China will have a similar lifestyle in 10 or 20 years.

On bus rides from city to city, Tour Guide Huo fills the time by sharing anecdotes such as this one: "In 2006, a Frenchwoman asked me, 'Do you know what a washing machine is' She was serious! I answered, 'No, I have my clothes dry-cleaned.'"

Huo then goes on to say, "French people go on strike in the spring. In summer, they're on holiday. In winter they go skiing, and they only work in autumn... We call that bad capitalism!"

With China's emerging nouveau rich and middle class, more people are traveling abroad. And while getting halfway across the world may be easier than before, as JOURNEY TO THE WEST makes clear it is apparent that many cultural gaps still need to be bridged.

"Well-paced and funny; the film subtly reflects not only its Chinese protagonists but the Westerners around them."GB Times

Quebec Ethnographic Film Festival, Canada
Zagrebdox Documentary Film Festival, Croatia
MiradasDoc Documentary Film Festival, Spain
Clermont-Ferrand Traces de Vies Film Festival, France
International Festival of Asian Film, Switzerland
Namur International French Festival, Belgium
Amsterdam International Documentary Festival (IDFA), The Netherlands

56 minutes / color
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2015

Subject areas:
Asia, China, Cultural Anthropology, France, Geography, Globalization, Racism, Streaming only

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Last Updated June 6, 2017
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