Ex Voto

Switzerland 1986. 35mm + 16mm, colour, 106 min.

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In 1979, I considered realizing "Ex Voto". Thinking about my country, I felt the urge to reach to the essential of life, of survival. So I left with my camera and filmed everything that cropped up in front of me. During the shooting, I became aware that the film mirrored my own spiritual and moral needs.
I have tried to find an answer, to get acquainted with my most basic feelings which are not, I think, very different from those of other men.
It is an attempt at discovering the meaning of belonging to a country - with all ist contradictions - HERE....TODAY. - Erich Langjahr

DirectorErich Langjahr
ScriptErich Langjahr
WithTrudi Heggli und Familie, Geschwister Zürcher, Moritz Jäggi, Ottomar Lang (dipl. Landschaftsarchitekt), Schwestern des Klosters "Maria Hilf" Gubel, Teilnehmer der Gedenkfeier 450 Jahre Kappeler Milchsuppe
PhotographyErich Langjahr
SoundErich Langjahr
EditingErich Langjahr
MusicMani Planzer
Musiker: Mark Albisser, Hans Kennel, Hans Koch, Edwin Küttel, Ueli Leimgruber, Philipp Maag
CollaboratorsPeter Paul Alig, Isabela Feyfar, Steff Gruber, Walter Marti, Susi Schneider, Maria Schnitzer, Fritz Zaugg, Manfred Züfle, Robert W. Zeller
Mischung: Eugen Surbeck
Duration106 min.
Format35mm + 16mm
Sales DVD/VideoDVD   [order]
FestivalsSolothurn, Nyon, Locarno, Mannheim (DE), Duisburg (DE), Leipzig (DDR), München (DE), Würzburg (DE), Wien (AT), Freistadt (AT), Paris (FR), Aurillac (FR), Rimini (IT), Trento (IT), Kopenhagen (DK), Edinburgh (GB), Los Angeles (USA)
Pro Helvetia: Augsburg (DE), Potsdam (DE), Leipzig (DDR), Bordeaux (FR), London (GB), Luxembourg (LU), Holland (NL), New York (USA)
AwardsQualitätsprämie Eidg. Departement des Innern
Premier Prix du Jury Oecuménique Festival Int. Nyon 1986
"Prix spécial" du Cinéma du réel, Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris 1987
Ausgewählt "best european films" Europacinema, Rimini 1987
Spezialpreis der Int. Jury, Leipziger Dokfilmwoche 1987
Förderungspreis der Innerschweizerischen Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft IRG 1987
Kunstpreis (Anerkennungspreis) der Stadt Luzern 1987
ScreensSchweiz: Programmkino in Luzern, Zug, Zürich, Bern, Basel, St. Gallen und Vorstellungen an 40 verschiedenen Orten
Deutschland: Villingen, Karlsruhe, Pforzheim, Schwäbisch Hall, Schorndorf, Berlin, Konstanz, Dortmund.
Frankreich: Verleih Centre national de la Cinématographie
TV broadcastsDRS, TV Suisse Romande, 3-SAT, Süddeutscher Rundfunk, Japanese TV Networks, Planete
Production35mm, 110 Min., Farbe, Lichtton Dolby SR, 1:1.37 - 1:1.66, Schweizerdeutsch
35mm, 110 Min., Farbe, Lichtton Dolby SR, 1:1.37 - 1:1.66, Schweizerdeutsch, untertitelt deutsch/französisch
16mm, 110 Min., Farbe, Lichtton, Schweizerdeutsch
Untertitelversionen: deutsch, französisch, englisch
World RightsLangjahr-Film GmbH
Distribution Switzerland
and international
Langjahr-Film GmbH, Luegstrasse 13, CH-6037 Root
Tel. +41-41-450 22 52 – Fax +41-41-450 22 51
E-mail: info@langjahr-film.chsend this messagewww.langjahr-film.ch

Press review

"Ex Voto" means a votive offering, a gift to a saint, in gratitude for fulfilment of a need. Young Swiss director Erich Langjahr, who prodigiously performed all the principal creative functions in the making of this excellent film, offers his "Ex Voto" as a holy duty. He is keeping his pledge to himself to film his beloved mountainous homeland in central Switzerland, to capture its beauty and to sound the alarm as industrialization threatens that beauty.

"Ex Voto" is a deeply personal film, poetic and lyrical, shot over a period of six years. For Langjahr, the film is a pilgrimage, a coming-home-again, his attempt "to touch the essentials of life, and of survival."

Langjahr shot in all seasons, in all extremes of weather, filming the cycle of life – plowing, planting, harvesting, time to milk the cows, time to slaughter the coat, time to worship. But it is always time to worship, even as you pass a small shrine beside a narrow mountain path, the pause that refreshes, then  you resume  trudging down to the village market deep in the valley. Langjahr’s point is that these mountain folk find joy in their work and in being close to nature, living with animals. They have a spontaneous spirituality about their lives. The Church work, too. The young nuns of the neighboring monastery sing as they thresh grain. These scenes from a one-man documentary could not be bettered by Robert Wise in "The Sound of Music."

What a shame that these idyllic mountain village and steep pastures are being menaced by the big caterpillar tractors. Their way of life is being excavated, because under their earth are deposits of gravel and hard stone needed to build the expanding cities, the factories, the superhighways. So the proud old mountains are being gutted, their innards trucked out to the construction sites.
A recurrent figure or motif or "Ex Voto" is a strong, fat, elderly farm woman, who embodies indestructible Swiss optimism. She sings, recites and chatters to herself continuously, as she works tirelessly at a thousand farm chores, often seen carrying heavy burdens uphill without panting. The camera at first seems unkind to her, emphasizing her grotesquely thick legs, but we soon admire her Earth Mother quality, and we hope her faith in Switzerland prevails.

"Ex Voto" was perhaps the best film at the Nyon festival.

Variety, Hitchens