/ 2017 / Book / Nature


  • Prize
    Gold in Book Proposal (Series Only)/Nature
  • Photographer
    Montague Fendt, China

As you would check the weather, in Beijing we check the air quality on our phones. On polluted days we close all windows, get the masks out and turn our air filters to the maximum setting. No sports allowed, keep indoors, the radio announces. The AQI is a scale from 0-500 measuring the pollution particles in the air. An average day in Switzerland reaches around AQI 10, a polluted day in Los Angeles as high as 120. The yearly average in Beijing is 179 with some record values of 879, cracking the scale. As a result, a whole array of colors fill the sky, acidic orange, eerie green, faint yellow. However, there is a strange beauty within the smog. A soft light that covers everything like a magical winter storm.

I was born and raised in Switzerland, studied Film and Sinology at the University of Zurich and decided to move to China in 2003. I live here for most of the years since, working as director for film and advertising in the bustling city of Beijing. It is exciting to see the rapid changes in this country and work on many local and international productions in this thriving industry. With over 10 years of experience in the film and advertising world of China, I now speak, read and write Chinese. However, China still is a completely different world from the one I grew up in. People think differently, work differently and the way stories are told is different, too. Many times my reason and moral is torn between two worlds, but it is the path in between that intrigues me and forces me to grow, trying to combine different ways and create something new. I am fortunate to have worked with an amazing array of great teams, from local talents to international professionals and even personal heroes of mine like Emmanuel Lubezki, Chris Menges, Sean Ellis, Mark Toia and Arthur Cohn. In my personal work, I am always drawn to dystopian societies, strong visual stories, anti-heroes and unknown places.

Awards Filmmaker and commercial director, kindly see www.montagu.ch for details.