The Congress of Penguins

Cast, collaboraters and technical informations


Quality Award of Swiss Confederation
Zurich Film Prize
Golden MediaNet Award, Munich 1994

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Photo Portfolio
The making of.. Journey to the Congress of Penguins
Have a look on the essay Island at the End of the World (PDF)

Review by Sorely Macdonald,
18th Cambridge Film Festival

"In Hans-Ulrich Schlumpf's dream-narrative, the location of the penguin's congress is the coldest, stormiest, the most inhospitable - and most fictitious - place on earth: the place where animals talk.

The Antarctic conjured in vision and nightmare: where ghost towns like Grytviken crumble at the sea's edge
but betray evidence of past slaughter, of veritable holocausts of hundred of thousands of whales, penguins and seals. Where the research vessel 'Polarstern' ploughs through frozen seas. And where a handful of scientists inhabit immemorial deserts, monitoring signs of changes in our world. The animals can talk: and for us, their message holds no comfort.

The penguins project ineluctable comedy and pathos. And if the conceit is anthropomorphic, objections are stilled by visual beauty and startling poetic flights. This film fuses breath-taking images with haunting music and sound. Penguin's Congress marries sensory exhilaration to chilling polemic. Magisterial, hectoring, poignant: a lyrical denunciation of man's rape of the

Where do dreams come from?
When they are restless, they come from tranquility.
When they are calm, they come from restlessness.
When they are cold, they come from the heat.
When they are hot, they come from the cold.
But always they bring you a message
from the distant provinces of your deepest self.
And if you still have understood nothing,
they already know everything.
Franz Hohler 1993 for "The Congress of Penguins"

The greatest challenge facing mankind in the next decennies will be the threat to the earth and the human race by man himself. The apocalyptic dimension of the approaching ecological  catastrophe is becoming more apparent: the ozone hole, the greenhouse effect, the destruction of the tropical forests and oceans. Although in 1972 the Club of Rome had already drawn up the growth limits quite explicitly, mankind's 'metabolism' is accelerating, the earth's resources are being plundered with increasing ruthlessness and the ensuing filth threatens to suffocate us and our children. We behave as if we are the lord and master of creation instead of being part of it.