Responsible for the content:
Rolf Lambert, Bernd Girrbach
Along Mekong Productions
(Girrbach, Lambert, Linke, Werry GbR)
Ploeck 54, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Fon +49.6221.162033, Fax +49.6221.167337
Copyright © 2011 Along Mekong Productions
Südwestrundfunk Fernsehen (SWR), www.swr.de
Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne (ARTE), www.arte.tv
Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg GmbH, www.mfg.de
Marco Polo Reisen GmbH, www.marco-polo-reisen.com
3Q Medien® GmbH, www.3qstreaming.com
Further partners and sponsors are welcome !
emerged from a 5x45 min. series of TV documentaries which we (Along Mekong Productions) produced in a co-production with the German public broadcaster SWR and the French-German cultural TV channel ARTE in 2010/11. The series was titled "Die Marco Polo-Fährte" (SWR), "Sur les traces de Marco Polo" (ARTE) and "Marco Polo Reloaded" in its 4x52 minutes international version. This Webdoc is a piloting venture to complement the regular linear broadcasting of the films with a non-linear, modular and interactive online presentation of the content. We have re-shaped and re-designed the content and the 2009/10 shot material, of which we hold the necessary rights. An internet-based navigable "webdoc" is fast emerging as a new genre, which we think will gain significance very soon.
The development of the webdoc has been supported by the Digital Content Funding (DCF) section of the Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg GmbH, MFG.
We will unveil the webdoc in five portions during October 2011. Hope you like it.
Along Mekong Productions
Alok Upadhyay, Cameraman
was born in Nigeria, Africa, lived in Bombay for a long time, holds an Indian passport and lives with his family in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a true world citizen and one of the best cameramen we know. A graduated of the Film & Television Institute of India, he has worked on a diverse range of films from Bollywood movies right through to wildlife documentaries, ethnographic films, political documentaries and a variety of television productions and corporate videos. For more than a decade Alok has been collaborating with Along Mekong and "Marco Polo Reloaded" carries his visual signature, from Venice to China. Alok comes from the Hindi word meaning "light". His humor is heavy duty, reliable and indestructable, even under 40 degrees centigrade.
Arash Setoodeh, Iran
was Bradley's travel companion throughout Iran, from Tabriz to the Persian Gulf. What isn't obvious in the films is that Arash served double duties. Apart from being on camera he was also the organizer of the logistically complex shoot. Arash was a master in facilitating the numerous (and always delicate) location permissions required in Iran. He studied law at Shiraz and Tehran universities and holds a Masters in "Human Rights", but his passion is filmmaking. He has worked as a radio presenter and TV moderator for Iranian Broadcasting (IRIB). Since 2007 he has worked as production manager for foreign film crews in Iran. His goal is to produce his own films, though these days the situation in Iran is not exactly conducive. As a boy his father read aloud Marco Polo's adventures in Persia for him.
Bernd Girrbach, author/director
is one of the two guys (the other is the coordinating author Rolf) who designed, shaped and implemented the Marco Polo project, TV-films and the Web-doc. Primarily a journalist, he studied Political Science and Economics in Heidelberg, worked as a news editor and then for 12 years as a radio correspondent for the German Broadcasting network in Africa (where he claims to have frequented every watering hole). For many years the stories he worked on were not nice ones. When his two children were born he abruptly lost his focus on political flashpoints and turned towards Asia and more cultural issues. Bernd is one of the four partners running AMP, focusing on planning, script-writing and directing shoots. Afghanistan fascinated him, as one of the few places this old hand has not been before.
Bradley Mayhew, travel writer and protagonist
While looking for a professional traveller with an interest in Marco Polo we chanced upon Bradley - competent and likeable, historically well read, Chinese-speaking, and a full-time travel writer. Bradley has been writing guidebooks to Asia for around 15 years now. He has lost count of exactly how many Lonely Planet guides he's worked on but it's around 30, including guides to Tibet, Central Asia, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya. He is also the co-author of the Odyssey Guide to Uzbekistan and contributes to several books on the Silk Road. An expat Brit, he currently lives in Yellowstone County, Montana, where he finally found a wife willing to put up with a professional vagabond. He spends around four months a year travelling on cramped buses and dining on ropey mutton in countries across remote Asia. His hobbies include reclining in chaikhanas and walking up the sides of mountains. His humor is sarcastic, unpredictable and highly reliant on a cool median air temperature.
Caroline Mutz, editor ARTE
was born in Hamburg and now lives in Strasbourg. An author for all sorts of cultural topics, editor at ARTE since 2002. Caroline was in charge for a wide range of ARTE programmes, such as "Themenabend" (Theme night). Since 2010 she has been responsible for ARTE "Découvertes" (Discovery). She joined the Marco Polo-Reloaded team at a late stage, but with immediate enthusiasm. It was Caroline who encouraged us to produce an alpha version of the web-doc for ARTE. From 2012 Caroline will be involved in shaping the design of the ARTE Creative, an innovative New-Media platform on ARTE; http://creative.arte.tv.
Daniel Döbel, developer
did all the programming on the (highly complex) inner workings of the webdoc. Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany he holds a BA in software- and Internet technology. Since 2004 has been instructing students in digital media and works as a freelance digital content designer and developer for various clients. In 2001 Daniel founded his company Schalldicht-Polymedia for digital media development, followed in 2010 by his own record label, specializing in Sufi music. Since working on the MP-Reloaded project Daniel doesn't get quite enough sleep anymore. Daniel took us to the exciting world of xml-files and "ActionScript", which sounds good to filmmakers, even if we don't understand it.
Dimitrios Kisoudis, author/researcher
has supported us manifold; in research, transcription, edit, upload etc. Switched-on Dimitrios bounds into battle wherever and whenever unexpected workloads emerge. He was born in the Hohenlohe (an underestimated German region), where the most delicate pigs and the most delicious cattle live. He studied Anthropology, German and Hispanistics in sunny Freiburg, Germany, and even sunnier Sevilla, Spain. In 2007 he began to work as freelancer at AMP and SWR. Along the way he writes for radio and press to keep up his writing skills. And apropos of nothing he publishes books on neat subjects like "Political Theology in the Greek Orthodox Church".
Elke Werry, production
got her doctorate of the University of Heidelberg in history, German and history of art and has for years been infected by the documentary bug. She learned how to shoot and write and in 1983 joined forces with M. Linke to form a production company, which in 1993 merged into Along Mekong Productions. She also prepared the Israel shoot and acted as Minister of Finance for the project. To ensure that the boys don't spend too much money and to take care Bradley isn't wearing his notorious check shirts all the time, she accompanied the first shooting mission. Elke thinks the webdoc is overly comprehensive and far too costly.
Emmanuelle Lambert-Wagner, web and graphic design
dressed the webdoc up, which wasn't too difficult for the stylish Frenchwoman that she is. Emmanuelle has earned her living in diverse sectors - fashion, film, design and web design - and has lived in diverse places, like Paris, Athens and New York City. Since 1986 she has been based in Heidelberg, Germany, where she translates into French and creates websites. To create the look and feel of a webdoc on Marco Polo was a nice opportunity to take another step into the outer space of New Media.
"Felix" (Zou Guoyu), China
helped Bernd to research China's Gansu Province on an extremely tight schedule. To explore the many the Silk Road locations at such a pace (a new location each day, with the nights spent traveling on trains) was quite new to Felix. Having grown up in the poor countryside of Hunan he vigorously studied International Politics at Peking University and has recently been admitted to the Foreign Service. Bernd couldn't dissuade him from following his childhood dreams and becoming a diplomat. Felix is a cheerful companion. He wakes up in a fantastic mood, which then improves steadily throughout the day.
Han Jianwei, China
is our friend and production partner in Shanghai. His own company "Vhans" produced movies like "Shanghai Baby", "The Red Dowry" and "A Summer in Nanjing". It's always a pleasure to travel and work with Jianwei. He loves warm rice wine and good food in the same kind of loud places that we do. And he is the perfect negotiator. He is blessed with an unerring instinct for each and every situation. He speaks the language of CEOs, truckers, street policemen and Communist party officials. In delicate situations he prefers to maneuver through the "kitchen door". With his laptop and his two mobiles he turns any car or any room in China into his office in a minute.
Manfred Linke, Editing & HD technology
did the edit of Marco Polo and supervised all the post-production workflow. He studied history, sociology and political science at Konstanz and Heidelberg and began in 1978 to work as a television author. 1983 he started a production firm with Elke Werry. Manfred is one of four partners running AMP and has a weakness for archaeology and fast computers. Manfred is happiest when sitting on a shoot amidst a pile of state of the art High Definition technology, all machines are purring like cats and his hotel room floor is cluttered with cables (a beer makes it perfect).
Mathews Anthony, sound recordist
Born and raised in Malaysia, he had a good time after leaving school, hanging out as a DJ in the club scene of Kuala Lumpur. Music remains his drug of choice today, but in 1996 he started to work as a film cutter. Since he moved to Heidelberg, Germany he has been involved in a number of AMP productions, as both soundman and editor. On the Marco Polo route he held the mic in Turkey, Tajikistan and China. He is responsible for frequent appearances in the unedited film, mostly when Alok shouts out "boom in frame!".
Mohammed Ali Karimi, Afghanistan
facilitated the delicate shooting mission in Afghanistan. He studied film and theater in Kabul and provides his skills to people who dare to try film productions in Afghanistan. He also works as a "fixer" for foreign journalists. Experienced, calm, very smart and sometimes thoughtful, Ali was the exact work and travel companion you would want to have in a war-torn country like Afghanistan. The days the crew were quartered in the ISAF camp in Faizabad must have been highly irritating for him. Currently he is completing his master's degree in Urban Communication at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
Muhammad "Santiago" Sheikh Aleshreh, Syria
"Santiago" helped us in Syria and emails us that this experience gave him the idea to work as a licensed tourist guide. As soon as the political situation in the country is peaceful again he wants to develop educational programs for tour groups. He comes from Aleppo where he also works in the textile industry to fund his master degree studies in English Literature.
Mustafa Yilmaz, Turkey
was born in Germany but has lived for a long time now in the very cool city of Istanbul, where he gets assignments as a freelance film production manager. He is also busy as a soundman. Most recently he has worked as a cameraman for various European broadcasters in Turkey. Mustafa assisted Rolf's research in Eastern Turkey and organised the necessary shoot permissions and travel logistics. He succeeded in getting a birthday cake in the middle of nowhere, which was celebrated in the freezing cold on the bonnet of our stranded car somewhere in Anatolia.
Rolf Lambert, coordinating author/director
hat mit Ko-Autor Bernd Girrbach die Marco Polo-Fernsehfilme und die Webdoc konzipiert, organisiert, gescriptet, gedreht, geschnitten, betextet usw. Er studierte Politische Wissenschaften und Germanistik, verfiel früh dem Reiz des Reisens und begann ab 1986 als freier Journalist und Kameramann zu arbeiten, für unterschiedlichste Medien, stets von „weit weg“. Er ist vor allem mit asiatischen Ländern und Kulturen vertraut, insbesondere mit Indien und Südostasien. AMP-Gesellschafter, als Regisseur/Autor tätig. Viel unterwegs. Verheiratet, ein Kind. Rolf hatte die Idee zu dieser Webdoc, und hat dieses Pilotprojekt mit Disziplin und viel Energie immer wieder vorangetrieben und hat sich unendliche Verdienste erworben, sie als ihr Mastermind zu koordinieren. Ohne Rolf wäre das nichts geworden.
Sayed Ibrahim Mawzoon, Afghanistan
led us though the remotest region of Afghanistan, his home province of Badakhshan. Ibrahim left school when the Taliban were in at their height. For a while he supported himself and his family with a small shop, while learning English in the evenings. He eventually succeeded in gaining admission to Kabul University, where he studied agriculture. For 11 years he has worked for various NGOs in northern Afghanistan, mainly for the Aga Khan Foundation. He looks after a number of their rural development projects.
Stefania Facco, Venice
was our line producer in Venice. Born in Milan, Italy she studied and graduated in Conservation and Near East Archaeology in Venice. She has participated in several research campaigns in Syria and continuously collaborates with Venice's Ca’ Foscari University. She facilitates documentary and photo shoots in her hometown and works on the management of like arts events such as the Biennale. She currently lives in Berlin, where she is Assistant Director of an art gallery.
Stefan Eichinger & Steffen Neuert, musicians/composers composed, played and mastered all soundtracks of Marco Polo Reloaded.
Stefan Eichingeralso known as LOPAZZ, is a worldwide known artist. He is a composer, a music producer, a mix-mastering-engineer and a DJ. He got the scene's attention when he released club hits like "I Need Ya!" or "Blood and Migracion". He has been publishing music since 1994, not only on his own label HD800Achtspur but also on renowned independent labels like Get Physical Music and Cocoon Recordings. Stefan's concert and club tours are truly global, with events in places like Hawaii, Moscow and Sao Paolo. He has the coolest life of us all, but lives a down-to-earth family life in Heidelberg, Germany with his wife and dog.
Steffen NeuertHas played drums since the age of nine. He grew up in Bruchsal, Germany and now lives in Heidelberg where he plays in a number of bands, such as Bergheim 34. Under the name 'Casio Casino' Steffen publishes mainly electronic music. He spins discs in clubs, and runs studio HD in Heidelberg. In collaboration with Stefan he created amazing film music tracks for the UNESCO series "Treasures of the World, Heritage of Mankind". He has been composing tracks for AMP films for over ten years.
Trang Nguyen, editor
joined the editing when the work pressure hit a new high. A few years ago we shot together a "Foodhunter"-film in her native country of Vietnam. She grew up in the countryside and made it to Hanoi, exploring new grounds, new cultures, new fields of interest, one of which is film. Now sister Trang is based in Berlin and is attending the HFF Potsdam film school as a master student in editing. She works on both documentaries and fiction. Films like "Lil'A" (IDFA Amsterdam, DOKKINO Helsinki), "Days of Rain"(Cinéma du réel, Duisburger Filmwoche) and "Story of Pao" (Asia-Pacific Film Festival) carry her signature.
Ulrike Becker, commissioning editor SWR
is the one who came up with the original idea! The realization of following the tracks of Marco Polo with a film project is due largely to her. Together with Ulrike we developed the five-part documentary series, the shot material of which became the base for this webdoc. Ulrike writes and directs documentaries herself. Since 1990 she has been a commissioning editor at the German broadcaster SWR, responsible for a programme called „Länder-Menschen-Abenteuer“. She also facilitates and commissions travelogue documentaries in collaboration with French/German cultural channel ARTE. Ulrike has accompanied "Marco Polo Reloaded" over a period of two years with much trust, good humour and invaluable advice.
Umed Bulbulshoev, Tajikistan
Asked for his profession Umed would describe himself as ethno-linguist, but his professional and cultural experiences go way beyond this. Trained in universities in New York, Saint-Petersburg and Mashhad, Iran, he is also fluent in half a dozen languages. Umed is now based in the region he comes from, Gorno Badakhshan, in the very south-east of Tajikistan. There he is working with GIZ and other NGOs, teaching at university and many other activities. Being very busy it was a great privilege to travel with him on the “Roof of the World”.
Viola Shu, China
was our highly appreciated production coordinator for the shoots in China. She was born and raised in Shanghai where she studied German literature. After graduating she started at Vhans film production, working mainly as a line producer for foreign film crews. It's a perfect job for a travel-happy girl like Viola, who has organised shoots all over vast China. She is a true friend, extremely easy going, she loves food, karaoke, Taiji and films. Unfortunately after completing Marco Polo Viola quit her film career for Shanghai's booming real estate sector where the money comes faster and easier. We are missing her but are sure she'll come back.
Yusuf Sevincli, Turkeyi
was Bradley's travel companion in eastern Turkey in mid-winter. Born in the most beautiful village of Turkey, Yusuf now lives and works in booming Istanbul. He has studied photography in Sweden and Turkey. Since the year 2000 he has exhibited his work in many countries. Yusuf is a truly stoic traveler. He has the ability to completely tune out irrelevant influences like the biting cold or a stressed director. He always stays extremely cool.
Very easy: just click!
On the top of the player window (or "viewer") you will see the (main) navigation tool of the webdoc: the route of Marco Polo (and Bradley Mayhew) from Venice to China, with its many stopping points. You can click-start these stations at your pleasure. Behind these locations several short filmclip-stories await you.
Many stations consist of a couple of film clips, which you may click-start at will. Once you have clicked a location you'll see at the bottom of the viewer a "bar" with "tabs" which show the available filmclips of this location. Click them as you like. These clips/stories are 1-4 minutes long. The last tab of the bottom bar on the far right (titled "Travel on ..", "Hit the road .." or similar) gives access to the next travel sequence, which leads to the next stop on Marco Polo's historical route. When this travel sequence "arrives" you have again the choice between various activities or stories. Don't like a clip? Click it off. Or start another ... it's up to you.
When clips play you will occasionally see flags appearing in the viewer for 5-10 seconds. Some of these flags are "links" leading you to Marco Polo's book: what did the Venetian actually write about the place or the subject? Other links bring you straight to Bradley's notebook and his personal blogs. And there are "links" which offer additional complementary clips. These links are not only accessed by flags, you can access them any time, nicely colored just above the tabs of the location bar at the bottom of the viewer.
And then, on the top right outside the viewer you find buttons called Faces, Places, Goods and Travels. Hit one of these and the webdoc sorts the stories thematically. See all the interesting folks Bradley met between Venice and China. How about the great monuments of the Silk Road at a glance? Or the commodities.
Finally ... you don't need this manual, it's easy. Just click and enjoy.
"Marco Polo Reloaded", English version, 4 x 52min.
Part 1 "From Venice to Eastern Turkey"
Part 2 "Through Iran"
Part 3 "From Afghanistan to China"
Part 4 "Through the Middle Kingdom"
available at a price of 30,00 € plus postal charges. Contact: