2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: WALDEN

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Daniel Zimmermann traces the journey of lumber across the world in a series of 360° sequences.

Festival Section:
New Frontier

Sundance Program Description:

In the forest of the Catholic monastery of Admont in Austria, a fir tree is felled and processed into planks of wood. By train, truck, boat, and finally hand, the stack is transported to a mysterious destination.

A luscious sensory experience, WALDEN takes us to 13 different stops on the journey from the forest through multiple cities, weather conditions, and modes of transportation, becoming more and more isolated. The film’s meditative commentary suggests the absurdity of the economic rationale that fuels our globalized world – and through strange turns, it soon shows us we are not headed to the destination we expected.

Director/screenwriter Daniel Zimmerman uses a camera moving in a 360-degree pan for every shot, and this transports us to the middle of each place so that we become the invisible, all-seeing eye to the worlds of both man and nature, and their distinct, intricate systems. Each shot is a new world where viewers can get lost in nature and in industry – and just when you start to sink into the latest landscape, you’re magically reunited with the tree along its journey, a testament to Zimmermann’s poetic and artistic ability.

Some Background:

  • Daniel Zimmermann

    Zimmermann is an artist whose work – installation, performance, and film – focuses on questions of sustainability. His short film STICK CLIMBING previously screened at Sundance.


  • Aline Schmid
    Past Sundance docs:

    SONITA (2016)

    Geneva-based Schmid produces through Beauvoir Films.


  • Bernhard Braunstein

    Braunstein previously cut and shot STICK CLIMBING.

Why You Should Watch:
Zimmermann’s mesmerizing project is meticulously constructed durational cinema that rewards patient viewers. The film debuted at Karlovy Vary last year, where it picked up a special jury prize.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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