972 Breakdowns – On the Landway to New York

Director: Daniel von Rüdiger / 110 min. / 2020 / German, English, Russian, (ST: German) / Germany

972 Breakdowns is the story of five young artists who decide to exchange exhibition for expedition. Anne, Efy, Elisabeth, Johannes, and Kaupo have a plan. They will put their studios on wheels and travel from Germany, all the way to New York city.

Director: Daniel von Rüdiger
Editing: Daniel von Rüdiger & leavinghomefunktion

Anne, Efy, Elisabeth, Johannes and Kaupo: By 2014 we had all finished our art studies and got together to form the „leavinghomefunktion“ collective. We wanted to leave behind the privacy of our stu-dios and the safety net of our home environment. And so a plan was constructed: We would travel 40.000-kilometers, from Germany, deep into the Russian Far East …all the way to New York city!

We had a team, we had route, all that was left was finding the right vehicle. The Ural 650 was the perfect match: Well known through out our whole route. We heard it‘s easy to find spare parts, and easy to repair.

If you follow the red line along the map, our journey unwinds all the way from Germany, through the Balkans, towards the Caucasus region. From there direction Russia, Kazakhstan and the Altai mountains… Further into Mongolia… And even deeper into the remotest corners of the Russian Far East.

In the Kolyma region, where taiga meets tundra, the red line abandons the road, following a Siberian river northwards, up to Bering Strait: an 80km water divide that separates Russia from Alaska.

From Alaska, our route continues all the way through the wild Yukon, down towards British Columbia and the Lower 48, until finally ending up in New York City.

The first 30.000 kilometers of our journey, were one huge driving lesson and a non stop fixing tutorial! We learnt how to steer our rickety Urals through the rough Mongolian steppe. We got to know what it means to be in the middle of remote wilderness without a hospital in sight… and what happens when roads flood in the north of Russia, and bridges cease to exist.

When all roads eventually ended, it was time to exchange helmets for life-vests and final-drives for propellers! After 8 months of experiments we managed to transform our motorcycles into amphibious creatures. Summer 2016 we took-off for 1600 km on the Kolyma River, direction Arctic Ocean…

„The Ural 650 is what set the pace of our journey. This flimsy motorcycle with all its breakdowns made our journey feel unrealistic in the beginning.
It didn‘t take long to though realize that all a break- down is in fact a real ice-breaker! Our breakdowns allowed us to come in contact with people along the way, warmly opening up the doors into local kitchens, living rooms, and above all… workshops!“

With the help of all the people who picked us up from the side of the road – who pulled us and pushed us along the way – we eventually made it to New York… just slightly slower than your usual plane ride!

leavinghomefunktion (Anne Knödler, Efy Zeniou, Elisabeth Oertel, Johannes Fötsch, Kaupo Holmberg)

Director: Daniel von Rüdiger
Editing: Daniel von Rüdiger & leavinghomefunktion
Music: 0101
Digital Colourist: Thomas Herget
Sound Design: Clemens Becker
Music mixing: Reinhard Gross und Willy Löster
Visual effects Felix Brokbals
Graphic-Design: T’n’T
Voice direction: Philipp Nawka
Speech Coach: Alexis Krüger
Translation & Subtitles in cooperation with: Elena Poddubnaja, Emma Louise Charalambous, Mikhail Piskunow, Ute Rittner
Produced by: leavinghomeproduktion

Daniel von Rüdiger (director)
1983 Rosenheim, Deutschland
09/2007 Diploma in Media Design
02/2011 M.A in Design &
Communications strategy
09/2011 M.A in Visual Communication & Iconic research
11/2013 Motorcycle drivers license (CH)
12/2018 PhD on „Rhythm as the intermediary of audiovisual fusions“
06/2019 Collaborated with leavinghomefunktion on the movie „972 BREAKDOWNS – On the Landway to New York“

It is only fitting that the naivety with which this journey was conducted should live on through it‘s film production. And so leavinghomefunktion collaborated with a director whose overall experience involved music videos and video installations and whose longest film was a 16-minute social documentary.

Daniel von Rüdiger, also an artist, traveller and motorcycle enthusiast, was inevitably convinced by the prospects of the collaboration and gladly took on the film material created during the trip. He really had no idea what it would mean to make a 110-minute film from over 500 hours of raw material! But after defending his doctoral thesis on rhythm as a link between documentary footage and music, he was over-motivated to put his research to work.

Beyond directing, he also took on the task to produce the film‘s orignal soundtrack, which he implemented with his long-time band partner Stefan Carl. Daniel von Rüdiger and Stefan Carl (aka 0101) work with reflective sounds and mixes of genres to interpret the images, emotions and breakdowns of the film. While von Rüdiger’s drums utilize original repairing sounds, Carl’s oscillating guitar feedbacks are modulated to scream out like worn down Urals.

For the original soundtrack of “972 BREAKDOWNS”, 0101 have collaborated with musicians from various musical backgrounds to expand their vocal and instrumental repertoire.

The violin by Malwina Sosnowski stir up two very important ingredients in this breakdown saga soup: irony and tragedy.

The DIY character of the film is equally attributed to the director as much as the production company. As leaving- homefunktion turned into leavinghomeproduktion they expressed a passion for their own project which manifests through cinematic experiments and analogue animations. In this sense the film can thus be understood as a collective work of art, in which film editing, music composition, narration and animation were worked on simultaneously.

972,000 decisions later, this one-year production journey has reached its end. A total of 165,500 film frames have been meticulously chosen in an attempt to turn cinema seats into sidecars and take visitors on an audiovisual journey around the world!

Halle, Germany: Our journey is about to begin. Engine compression, ignition timing, valve clearance – these are still foreign words. Just 25 kilometers have passed since we left our doorstep when our Russian motorcycles strike! It’s pretty clear that the roadside assistance won’t be towing us all the way to New York City, so we should probably come to terms with our new life as mechanics… The next 20.000 kilometers look like roads dissolving into deserts… dissolving into swamps… dissolving into rivers… Accompanied by thunderstorms, sandstorms, armies of mosquitos, and mountains of bureaucracy! Curiosity, naivety, stubbornness or perhaps persistence – there are many ways to find out what distance really means.

Landway kaputt
Where taiga meets tundra: We’re in East Siberia. It’s still another 4000 kilometers to Bering Strait and our visa time is running out. So we decide to take a short cut: The Old Road of Bones…! But after 300 kilometers of squirming through swamps, rivers, and mud we have to come to terms with the fact that this »shortcut« isn’t much of a time saver.
All roads end here. So it seems we need to add another part to this expedition!
During our winter pause, we patch together a prototype that will get our motorcycles swimming: The Amphibious Ural 650. By springtime we’re ready to take on the biggest obstacle on our Landway… The Kolyma river. We are standing at the shore of this 1600km long river, and we’re fully prepared! Checklist: x4 Urals equipped with pontoons and propellers, and x5 clueless people with their life vests. We can only hope that none of our engines spontaneously explode as we head towards the Arctic ocean!

43.000 kilometers later
Spoiler alert: After 2,5 years on the road we somehow made it to New York without any fractured skulls or broken bones. Maybe just a few gray hairs… Meanwhile, we’ve learned what happens when plans collapse. Chance becomes the shape of our daily routine. The Ural has without a doubt become the stage of our journey: A breakdown announces the lifting of the curtains and people feel open to approach us. »Where are you from?” What’s wrong? I can help you…« And while the backdrop always changes the result stays the same: The ice breaks – and our breakdown family grows even bigger. Without all the people who invited us into their homes, to share a meal, to fix in their warm garage, or to hammer a broken crankshaft this would have been a completely different story…

Presskit download [PDF]

»972 breakdowns is the most important adventure travel film I have seen in the last ten years. {…} During my curation duties I have watched about 3000 adventure films in the last 15 years. I don’t think anyone can match this. {…} I have so much praise for you. It was a perfect film and a perfect adventure. {…} I know this genre better than anyone alive and you have created a DEFINING work. It will be talked about 100 years from now.«