Common Roads – Pilmigrage and Backpacking in the 21st Century

Whereas the label of “pilgrim” is still mostly associated with devout persons leaving home for purely religious motives, young people taking to the road as «backpackers» are generally perceived as pleasure seeking globetrotters. Questioning these stereotypes, anthropologist and filmmaker Tommi Mendel followed one young woman along the Way of St. James through France and Spain and another one along backpacking-routes through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Documenting their experiences and encounters over a period of three years, this film reveals intriguing parallels on various levels between what at first glance appear as two different ways of travelling. “Common Roads” is Tommi Mendel’s PhD-thesis accepted by the University of Zurich and was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Tommi Mendel

Tommi Mendel was born 1970 in Switzerland. He studied Social and Cultural Anthropology, Religious Studies and History at the University of Zurich with the focus on Visual Anthropology. His ethnographic documentary “”Bunong’s Birth Practices Between Tradition and Change”” (2010) won several prizes at international film festivals.