Paris, October 28, 2022
For immediate release
Olivier Brémond and Thorunn Anspach’s production company Mercer Productions (part of Federation Studios) is proud to announce the filming of the documentary titled Bhutan: Following in the footsteps of Matthieu Ricard. This 52’ film for ARTE is directed by Jérôme Cecil Auffret and co- written by Auffret and Caroline Halley des Fontaines.
The 28-day-long shoot kicked off in Bhutan on October 16.
After spending 7 years away, Buddhist monk and photographer Matthieu Ricard returns to Bhutan, a small hidden kingdom in the Himalayas where he has spent 10 years of his life.
The film invites us to discover this exceptional man and the country he holds most dear: thanks to his status and his in-depth knowledge of Bhutan and its inhabitants, Matthieu Ricard is able to take us to places no-one else has access to. By his side, we get to see the most breathtaking of landscapes, and meet men, women and children experiencing ageless existences and traditions, as well as masters of wisdom. Since Matthieu Ricard’s last visit, the modern world’s battering ram has finally managed to butt through the armor of this self-sufficient realm, imposing its satellites and worldwide web. But despite this encroachment, Matthieu Ricard is still able to find the jewels that have always made this small kingdom a unique territory, away from the rest of the world.
In the late Sixties, Matthieu Ricard was one of the first Westerners to convert to Buddhism. He has become internationally renowned for the simplicity with which he is able to heighten public
awareness on the subjects of meditation, peace and altruism. A member of the Dalai-Lama’s inner circle, Ricard is also an excellent photographer, and he uses this art form to share his values and his wonder over the workings of the world and the human soul.
Matthieu Ricard: ‘’I want to travel again – maybe for the last time – to Bhutan: this little kingdom is one of the most special realms I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I’ve photographed this
country so much over the years but it must have changed a lot since the last time I was here. This trip will be an opportunity for me to talk about the concerns the Bhutan people have regarding the threat of global warming to their precious environment. The Himalayan glaciers (known as the world’s “third pole”) are melting at an alarming rate when, paradoxically, this country is probably the least polluting nation in the world.
I see photography as an instrument, an art form, that allows me to achieve my vocation as a practicing Buddhist: to serve others. I hope this new trip and the documentary that goes with it will
allow me to share my optimistic view of the world.”
Jérôme-Cecil Auffret, the film’s co-writer and director: ‘’We will be following in Matthieu Ricard’s footsteps and seeing things through his eyes as he takes us to the mythical places that have left an eternal impression on this unique cosmopolitan monk. From inaccessible monasteries to mountain nomads, and from rituals to wildlife and impassable cols, the photographer’s red robe is our door opener to this country’s innermost secrets. Through him, we also get to meet his monk and lama friends and the various colorful characters he has known for many years.”
Jérôme-Cécil Auffret’s films have won about fifty awards worldwide, including an International Emmy Award. They have been watched by over 90 million viewers throughout the world, aired by ARTE, France T.V., PBS, Buena-Vista & Disney, NatGeo and BBC, in particular.
Having explored many areas of life, including culture, anthropology, animals and science, his “editorial line” is now devoted to the relationship between Man and the sacred.
Caroline Halley des Fontaines, the documentary’s fellow writer: in her role as a visual artist and photographer inspired by pureness and sobriety, Caroline has spent the last 20 years exploring sacred places
around the world, pictorially depicting the myths and legends they harbor.
This documentary is produced by Mercer Productions, a Federation subsidiary production company created by Thorunn Anspach and Olivier Brémond in 2020. It specializes in French and international fiction and high-end documentaries.
International sales of the Bhutan: Following in the footsteps of Matthieu Ricard documentary will be handled by Federation.
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About Mercer Productions:
Founded in 2020 by Thorunn Anspach and Olivier Brémond, Mercer Productions is part of the Federation Studios “galaxy,” enriching its catalog with new French and international fiction projects and high-end documentaries.
Working with renowned writers and young talents alike, Mercer Productions offers projects to both so-called “traditional” broadcasting media and streaming services.