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March 2014, distribution news

Now Newly restored and digitized version of "Shamans of the Blind Country" now available

Following its presentation at this year's Berlinale Forum we are pleased to now offer the newly restored and digitized version of SHAMANS OF THE BLIND COUNTRY (SCHAMANEN IM BLINDEN LAND) as part of our distribution range. The film has been one of the most in demand titles throughout the years. Cultural anthropologist Michael Oppitz travelled to the Magar in Nepal three times in the late 1970s to research their form of shamanism. Accompanied by a small film team, he discovered the camera was an excellent companion for the ethnographical gold standard: field research. After each three-month stay with the Magar in the Himalayas, the team would then wait in Kathmandu for the 16 mm footage that had been sent to New York to be developed. The resultant 35 hours of material were later edited down into an almost four-hour film. Oppitz referred to his work with this material as ‘ethnography in the darkroom’, with the film footage serving as an initial aid to his research. Yet the concept of ‘assistance’ seems like an understatement here in view of the film. It is not only its subject matter that made it swiftly advance to become a classic of visual anthropology, but also its sense of precision and rhythm and diligent treatment of language. The shamans’ magical healing methods attracted attention far beyond anthropological circles. We are happy to be able to present a restored digital version of Schamanen im Blinden Land following its initial screening at the Forum in 1981.

Michael Oppitz was born in 1942 in the Krkonoše Mountains of Silesia, Poland. He studied anthropology, sociology and Sinology at Berkeley, Bonn and Cologne, and earned his PhD in 1974 with a dissertation on the history of structural anthropology. Along with guest professorships in England, France and the United States, he was a professor of anthropology at Zurich University and the director of the university’s Ethnographic Museum from 1991 until his retirement in 2008. Starting in the 1960s, he carried out extensive fieldwork in the Himala- yas with the Sherpa (1965) and the Magar (1977–1984), in Yunnan Province with the Naxi (1995–1996), and in Sichuan Province with the Qiang (2000–2001). He is the author of numerous publications on anthropological and ethnographic subjects and has made several short films. SHAMANS OF THE BLIND COUNTRY (SCHAMANEN IM BLINDEN LAND)Country: Nepal, Germany, USA 1980. Production company: Neo-Film GmbH, Berlin (Germany); Nachtaktivfilm, Berlin (Germany). Director: Michael Oppitz. Screenwriter: Michael Oppitz. Director of photography: Jörg Jeshel, Rudi Palla. Sound: Barbara Becker. Editor: Hella Vietzke. Producer: Wieland Schulz-Keil (NeoFilm GmbH). Restoration: Brigitte Kramer, Jörg Jeshel (Nachtaktivfilm). Format: DCP, colour. Running time: 223 min. Language: Kham, English. World premiere: 15 October 1980, New York City (USA).