Journey to the West

Directed by Jill Coulon

56 minutes / Color
Mandarin; English / English subtitles
Release: 2017
Copyright: 2015

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

Other Ways to Watch

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations
This title is available for streaming only.

Available for educational streaming from:

Select Accolades

  • 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


By assigning financial value to elements of nature, can markets save the planet?

Denis Delestrac and Sandrine Feydel | 2015 | 90 minutes | Color | English; French | English subtitles | Closed Captioned

The entrepreneur, diplomat and art collector Uli Sigg has played a role in the transformation of China's art world since the 1970s.

Michael Schindhelm | 2017 | 93 minutes | Color | English; Mandarin | English subtitles

An epic journey through voices and sounds from elsewhere. Landscapes, outlooks on the world, outlooks on life: Desert, snow, valley, jungle, ice, rainforest. An homage to humanity at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Nikolaus Geyrhalter | 2010 | 240 minutes | Color

A global survey of the impacts on cultures, economies, and the environment of the most powerful globalizing force of our time: tourism.

Pegi Vail | 2014 | 79 minutes | Color

Madam Phung and her transgender singers travel around Vietnam, sparking fascination and hostility from the local people.

Nguyễn Thị Thấm | 2014 | 87 minutes | Color | English subtitles