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ORF Chandigarh 05.04.24
00:00 / 06:39
wdr3 Mosaik 26.01.24
00:00 / 06:24
Deutschlandfunk 21.01.24
00:00 / 02:07
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«At the invitation of the Swiss Embassy in Delhi, we brought the film back to Chandigarh and organised a guided tour of the Capitol Complex for the entire embassy crew together with our protagonists and Peter Zumthor.»


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«A must-see for anyone interested in architecture and culture."

"For anyone interested in architecture, urban development and the complex relationship between space and society, this documentary is an essential cinema experience.»

Tagesspiegel Ticket 

«Thomas Karrer and Karin Bucher show grandiose buildings and let architects, activists, teachers and city guides talk about their Chandigarh. The numerous contradictions of the famous retort city - such as the fact that the government district designed by Le Corbusier has not been open to the public since a suicide bombing in 1995 - contribute to the film's narrative, creating a pleasingly complex portrait of the city.»

Monopol Magazin  

«Although they are clearly fascinated by Corbusier's ideas of a Gesamtkunstwerk, whose motto 'Utopia is the reality of tomorrow' is quoted again and again, Karrer and Bucher do not glorify the end product in their reflection on an avant-garde vision. Rather, they also take an illuminating look at the problems of the city, such as rising housing prices or the loss of public spaces.» 

«THE POWER OF UTOPIA awakens the longing for a city where people take centre stage. Where no soulless investment property is built one after the other, where there is affordable living space and a high quality of life for everyone, places to meet, retreat and relax.»


«…encouraging...In our broken world, urban architecture, which promotes cultural development and social justice, seems even more harmonious and forward-looking than its inhabitants describe it. Of course, success brings problems. Time is the enemy of every utopia, but every utopia resists time.»

Architektenkammer NRW

«Bucher and Karrer sought out places and locations where the dazzling interplay of old dream and new life, of utopia and everyday life, of decay and quiet poetry is revealed. Worth seeing!»

«Bucher and Karrer have put together something to keep the eyes as well as the head busy.»


General-Anzeiger Bonn

«This brilliant documentary tells the story of how much the western rationalism of modernity has blended with the lifestyle of the Indians, and perhaps also what Le Corbusier's utopia has changed in people's minds and in the way they live together. It is far more than a film about one of the most important architects of the 20th century and his project, 'the work of my life'. Rather, it is a film about freedom and development, about the poetry of materials, light and colour - and people who visibly feel at home in these modernist buildings.»

«An exciting adventure.»

BauNetz                                         29.9.23

by Ulrike Alber-Vorbeck

The result is a multi-layered portrait of the "Beautiful City" conceived as a garden city at the foot of the Himalayas - rich in information, illuminating and atmospheric at the same time. Those who have so far associated Chandigarh primarily with the iconic buildings of the Capitol Complex, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be fascinated by this unique modernist city, laid out at right angles in 56 sectors, with its open spaces, parks, swimming pools and protected trees, its cultural buildings, universities and places of worship. 

Appenzeller Zeitung               21.9.23

by Mark Riklin

«Utopia is the reality of tomorrow," said Le Corbusier 70 years ago. The tomorrow of that time is our reality today. To what extent has utopia become reality, asks the film "Power of Utopia».

SwissInfo                                               31.8.23

by Alan Matti

On the other hand, the reaction fits the theme, for Chandigarh is in the round one giant Rorschach test: Dubbed the "Beautiful City" in India, it has been both hailed as an urban masterpiece and condemned as a bizarre act of cultural imperialism, an attempt to impose Western notions of progress on India just a few years after the successful replacement of the British Raj. 


St.Galler Tagblatt                         22. 8.23

by Christina Genova

"Power of Utopia" awakens the longing for a city where people are at the centre. Where no soulless investment property is built one after the other, where there is affordable housing and a high quality of life for everyone, places of encounter, retreat and recreation.

KEYSTONE SDA               17. 8.23

by Raphael Amstutz

The city came into being after the end of British colonial rule, thus after the bloody division of India into Pakistan and India. "A utopia can be like a phoenix rising from the ashes at such a time," the director said.

NZZ Le Corbusier Steinrauschen             25.8.23

by Andres Herzog

Le Corbusier designed Chandigarh according to universal values that have fallen into disrepute in some circles in the West. The starting point of his architecture was the human being, which stands in striking contrast to current utopian ideal cities like "The Line" in Saudi Arabia.


Living with Le Corbusier in Chandigarh

Markus Zinsmaier

Patterns, shapes, colours, light: it is a floating view from above with which Karin Bucher and Thomas Karrer approach an urban utopia of the last century in their essayistic documentary film. What appears to be a geometric construct is a drone view of the Indian city of Chandigarh. What does the planned city mean for us today? What can planned urban development achieve and where does real life begin?


It is a European view of an unfamiliar India that the camera takes as it explores buildings, streets and landscapes. And yet it is always close to the protagonists: four cultural and architectural figures from a pulsating metropolis. Like a flâneur, the camera explores the city, curious, pausing, reflecting and yet open to everything the camera eye perceives for the first time. The stories intermingle: the historical development of the civil servant city and the personal stories of the inhabitants of this unusual Indian "small town" with more than 1 million inhabitants. At some point, the boundaries become almost indistinguishable.


What makes us what we are? What role do socialisation, architecture and landscape play? Do we become other people in a foreign environment, culture? How do we want to live? "POWER OF UTOPIA" asks such questions, but also can we leave our European gaze behind to merge into the foreign?


Chandigarh, designed as a planned city by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s with an army of architects, is a testimony to modernity. Quite similar to Oscar Niemeyer's almost contemporaneous design for the Brazilian administrative city of Brasilia. The difference lies in the details: while the administrative employees from Rio de Janeiro had to be literally forced to move to Brasilia, the inhabitants of Chandigarh have now made the Indian city their own. As desolate, crumbling and outdated as the concrete may be in one place or another, Chandigarh is colourful, colourful and green in other places. 1/3 of the area is covered by trees.  "The city beautiful", say the inhabitants. Chandigarh will remain a special place in 2023, surrounded by the states of Punjab and Haryana, far enough away from the Indian metropolises of Delhi and Mumbai, a garden city at the foot of the Himalayas. A utopia?


For cultural workers, it is an almost ideal place in India: open, green, creative, cosmopolitan, full of possibilities. The parks and green spaces for the general public already hint at what is common sense nowadays, the linking of architecture and nature, inside and outside as a merging togetherness. Bucher / Karrer trace this togetherness, in interviews, in the chaos of everyday life, the different sectors, ruptures of a city that in 1947 was a planned city and today is modernity in action. Or as the actor and urban activist G.S. Chani says in the film, who himself lives in one of the simpler sectors: "We have it better than the rich people. We don't have big lawns in front of our houses, we have big parks." The rich look at their small plot of green, everyone else owns the city and its vibrant life.


Between the legacy of British colonial rule, civil war and partition, something has developed in the still young Indian democracy that fascinates and irritates at the same time: the controversial Gesamtkunstwerk Chandigarh. Documentary footage embeds the emergence of the city in Indian history. Everything is designed. The original city planning has remained untouched to this day. There is no dense building. Houses, trees and streets are protected. In Chandigarh, traffic rolls along predetermined main axes. The former emptiness has filled up with vehicles. The residential areas are silent. Access roads lose themselves in cul-de-sacs. Trees line the way, flowers. Slums have settled in the suburbs.


Chandigarh is a strange city: austere, colourful, open. The Pakistani border is not far, the average income per capita the highest in India. A place of longing. The architect Le Corbusier, who was sometimes criticised in Europe, created something here that has stood the test of time. Criticised in Europe, he has his strongest supporters here.


As a viewer of "POWER OF UTOPIA", you immerse yourself in this city together with the filmmakers and thus in a culture that is foreign to us.  The driving music of the Indian musician Atul Sharma sets the rhythm, the camera the colour. Hidden things are revealed, short impressions of a life that is conceivably far removed from our European one and yet seems almost European for India. It is this contradiction that feeds the tension of "POWER OF UTOPIA". Who are we and what do we want to be? Chandigarh - the film - provides impressive images for this, discusses fundamental questions between East and West, colonialism and imperialism, and thus shows an interpretation of our modern life.

Une ville à Chandigarh
Film by Alain Tanner / John Berger 1965


Radio SRF 2 KULTUR _ Nachrichten 07.00 _
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