To Damascus

One can’t understand everything
and I think that it’s good,
that it is that way.
Sten Johan Hedman, actor

Floating far above the ground cities and landscapes are seen with a gaze. Down there is reality. How do you navigate down there? How do you sense reality? Is it at all possible? Or is knowledge, understanding – reason – blocking the view?

This is a dreamplay, it’s an interior journey.
Sten Johan Hedman, actor

To Damascus is a film about interpreting reality. It is a journey into reality – in an attempt to sense it. Constantly lost and always finding a way, the film was born out of confusion and wonder on a script and map-less journey from Copenhagen to Damascus.

The film is searching for answers but no answers are found. Is the journey then in vain? Or is this the actual condition for all people exploring inner journey?

What kind of film?
Yilmas, interpreter

TO DAMASCUS is an invitation to join this journey. To free association and open questions presented in a flow of places, persons, situations and dreams. There is no main character, no steady course or clear fixed points, only the possibility of some resonance within the viewer, perhaps the films only real character.

Anything might happen; everything is possible and probable.
August Strindberg, dramatist

The film is a contemporary reaction to Strindbergs play THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS. This dreamplay, one hundred years old, revolves around the character of THE UNKNOWN, a bewildered man lost in his own mind. He has lost faith in emotions, including his own, and is therefore cut of from life as it evolves around him. No emotions are let loose, they are safeguarded by his mind as a thinking machine.


You can lose the emotional contact with your surroundings.
And then it becomes difficult to find some sort of orientation
within your existence.
Sten johan Hedman, actor


Strindberg uses the character of The Unknown to display the diagnosis of our time and it seems that we live in his dystopia now more than ever. Reason is the bliss of our time, while emotion seems to be regarded as interrupting bewilderment. All is being adapted and mainstreamed in the name of efficiency.

Our dreams and our perception of the world make the world we have and if they clash constantly with reality as it is around us, we’ll become ill…

Of course.
Sten Johan Hedman, actor

TO DAMASCUS is opting and reaching for an alternative: Insisting upon emotions and dreams as means for orientation in life. Hence the film displays open ended imagery which calls for individual experience.

It’s important to ask these questions: Why do we live?
Why are we in this world?  Why the dollars?
Domenico Bertoli, munk

The Royal Swedish actor Sten Johan Hedman accompanies the journey as an omnipotent voice. He has in 1999 personified the character of Strindberg’s THE UNKNOWN, and is furthermore as an experienced actor a skilled interpreter of life.

He speaks from personal opinion of a colossal spiritual and mental void in our time and in search for such meaning the journey is suddenly confronted with another interpreter: The turkish media star fortuneteller Medyum Memis. With his insights the journey is once more redirected.

You have to trust my answers.
Medyum Memis, fortune teller

New interpreters mix in: A priest guided by faith and a prostitute held by hope. The different voices conflict, correspond, double and reverberate. Fate and destiny suddenly appear in the midst of the ever open minded journey, and little by little the film is confronted with its own mechanisms of choosing, directing and effecting reality – of interpreting.

The men say that because we work in such a hard place,
what we feel will actually happen.
Irem, prostitute

The number of questions exceeds the number of answers as the destination of the journey arises. And then on arrival in Damascus everything change once more.

I will return the camera to you in a few days

– Sure I will make a film for you.
Waleed, taxi driver

2005 / 2D
40 min

Directors: Michael Madsen, Jeppe Baandrup, Morten Kjems Juhl
Producer: Morten Kjems Juhl, Gallery Tusk

Selected Screenings & Awards

New Vision Competition, Infinity Festival, Italy, April 2005:
Audience Prize: Best Documentary
Festival Litteratura, Manova, Italy
Nordic Panorama, in competition, Bergen, Norway
CPH:DOX, in competition, Copenhagen, Denmark
Kassler DocFest, in competition, Kassel, Germany
International Film Festival Rotterdam
Its All True, Brazil
European Media Art Festival 2006, Osnabrueck, Germany