Victor Segalen – Expedition into the Chinese Empire

  • Antenna IDFF Sydney
  • Berlin beyond FF
  • Guangzhou IDFF
  • Hotdogs Filmmaker
  • Hotdogs top10
  • idfa
  • Canadian sport FF
  • One world FF Bratislava
  • One world FF Prag
  • Verzio Human Rights DFF
  • E-Dox FF

„VICTOR SEGALEN – EXPEDITION INTO THE CHINESE EMPIRE“ sleuthes a French expedition in the year 1914, led by the navy doctor and writer Victor Segalen (1878 – 1919), which entered deeply into the unexplored heart of China.




52 min


Tamara Wyss and Maria Zinfert

Victor Segalen was assigned by the French government to detect the earliest works of Han-Chinese stone sculpture art in the province of Sichuan, which is located at the border to Tibet. Fabulous creatures from the afterlife mythology of the old China, fallen silent in the darkness of times, abundant stone sculptures, with which the Chinese sculpting began two thousand years before. The way was sketched hypothetically, but what the expedition was going to encounter was unpredictable. 

Segalen’s encounter with the stony art of China would become the source of his literary producing. His texts aren’t only descriptions of what he has seen but often his personal echo of the far past of China. His chronicles document in a spectacular way one of the last expeditions of the 20th century, which crossed without automobile and under the most difficult circumstances the vast Chinese Empire. On their 6.000 kilometer long way the adventurers and early scientists studied, besides the mysterious animal sculptures, tomb columns and caves, also Buddhist stone sculptures.

In the film black and white photography’s of the expedition in 1914 are contrasted with current shots of the same locations. Segalen has kept records during his trip through China of an archaic world, which doesn’t exist anymore today. His broad literary and photographic documentation of the expedition applies not only to the grand art treasures of China, but also to the experiences and impressions of his enormous journey.

Written by
Maria Zinfert

Directed by
Tamara Wyss

Director of Photography
Li Xiao
Eckart Reichl

Trevor Hall
Jörg Nussbaum
Kristine Langner

Zheng Lu

Nils Kacirek

Georg Tschurtschenthaler

Hongbin Deng

Executive producer
Christian Beetz

Commissioning Editor
Martin Pieper

The Cleaners
88 min
  • „Just in diesem Moment überraschen uns die aus dem Theaterbereich stammenden jungen Regisseure Hans Block und Moritz Riesewieck mit einem erstaunlichen Dokumentarfilm, der seit Monaten Publikum und Kritik auf den wichtigsten Festivals der Welt elektrisiert. Völlig zu Recht: Es ist, als würden einem die Scheuklappen weggerissen, als sähe man das, was sich seit Jahren direkt vor unseren Augen abspielt, zum ersten Mal unverschleiert... eine fesselnde ,Doku noir' mit höchstem Anspruch...Dieser Film müsste an allen Schulen gezeigt werden.“
    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In co-production with

  • wdr

In co-production with

  • navigator

In collaboration with

  • arte

In association with

  • Filmstiftung nrw

Supported by

  • VW Stiftung