February 4, 2015

Short film “Vennbahn – A path of transmission”: a tale to move generations

The Vennbahn – once an iron lifeline, is today a frontier crossing cycle track and successful tourism concept. The 125 km of former rail embankment running from Aachen via East Belgium to Luxembourg transmits history, landscape, emotion, knowledge … but also a sense of fun and joy. The new short film “Vennbahn – A path of transmission” (Vennbahn – ein Weg der Generationen) brings the soul of this line into an emotionally charged miniature epic.


“It’s quite a challenge, telling the turbulent history of the Vennbahn in only two minutes. Our aim was to make the entire variety of this unique former railway into a compact experience that would touch a receptive nerve in modern times and awaken emotions in our viewers. I think that with ‘A path of transmission’ we’ve succeeded”, says Sandra De Taeye, Director of the East Belgian Tourism Agency (Tourismusagentur Ostbelgien), who entrusted this challenge to the TV Knowledge Channel “National Geographic”.


From steam locomotive to bicycle

About the story: an old man walks with an air of nostalgia and regret along the neglected tracks of the disaffected railway. As a former rail worker he knows every curve and climb on the network. For him it is a path “on which nothing dies or vanishes, but is reborn and lives again in each new generation”. He realises that time does not exist and age is of no consequence, because each generation breathes new life into the past. He is a ten year-old boy discovering the timeless beauty of the Vennbahn on his bike and experiencing the same feelings, the same excitement and sense of connection as the old railwayman.

The old steam locomotive becomes a bicycle – the soul of the Vennbahn. The same elements of fire and water that once drove the mighty engines still move us today. The “way” through the unique natural landscapes is still the “goal”. Within the rock formations, bridges, rivers and streams, trees and folds of the earth lie the past: close enough to touch across the generations. “Now it’s your turn. Go your own way. Write your own story” … says the old man, challenging us to breath new life into the spirit of the Vennbahn.


Premiere in Amsterdam

The first version of the film “Vennbahn – A path of transmission” is in English with sub-titles in German, French and Flemish. The film was made by a young production team from Brussels, ‘Girafeo’, who also wrote the scenario. An actor from Brussels plays the old railroader. The film was shot on diverse locations on and about the Vennbahn, as well as in Mariembourg in the Ardennes, where the scenes with the old locomotive were taken. A total of six days were needed for Scouting and Shooting. The production and editing of the film (choice of shots, soundtrack, mixdown …) took a further 17 days.

The film’s Premiere took place at the end of January 2015 before an audience of journalists as part of the “Fiets en Wandelbeurs” (bike and hike fair) in Amsterdam. The film will also be shown at the Reisemesse ITB (ITB Travel Fair) in Berlin in early February as a participant in the “Goldenen Stadttor” (Golden City Gate), a competition in which prizes are awarded to the best films from the international tourism sector.


The film will also run on TV or on the East Belgian Tourism Agency’s YouTube channel or in the Internet at www.eastbelgium.com