Journey to an Imaginary City
by Angela Christlieb


Urville is the most modern city in the world. It is situated on an island in the Mediterranean and you can go there with a ferry boat. After sundown standing by the coast – you can see Urville’s skyline on the surface of the sea. People say everyone is equal in Urville. Neither prisons, nor ethnic rivalries exist and a divorce rate below 1 percent. Solidarity is a school subject in Urville. Urville is fictional. Some have seen it or know exactly where it is situated, others think of it as a reflection on the Mediterranean’s surface just off the coast of Corsica. Urville is reality. Three French villages carry its name and all inhabitants are certain that their Urville is the most beautiful place in the world. Champagne comes out of the faucet and heals Diabetes and Alzheimers disease. Elections are held in an improvised polling booth in the major’s closet and the political opponent is a selfmade Real Estate-Redskin who carries a lifesize cartboard-figure of Bill Clinton around in the woods. No one is afraid of death in Urville, but Urville is also situated next to one of France’s biggest nuclear power plants. In case of an emergency iodine tablets will be given out for all inhabitants up to the age of forty. The world championist of chitling-making lives in Urville and people always stick together in case of an upsetting event. Some people live a circus life outside the constraints of everyday life and dream of a bourgoise marriage. Everything is possible in Urville. You won’t find it without GPS navigation, detailed maps may help but sometimes you can not even see it with binoculars. But if you make your way to Urville you will find out eventually that legends are worth believing in them.




„Urville makes a more interesting island vacation than Aldous Huxley’s.“ (NICK PINKERTON, The Village Voice)

„A refreshing light-docu-fiction which impresses by Christlieb’s loving humor. Urville is many things in one: documentation, because the people who are in it, very real. Fiction, because play fantasies, desires and utopias a central role. Comedy, because the interviewed people are funny guys. And experimental film, because everything is very playful and tells in part with funds alienating.“ (MICHAEL KANE, New York Times)

„A strange, mildly provocative and imaginative „documentary“ about an imaginary city. Director Angela Christlieb essentially explores a mythical, fictionalized, utopian society that’s vaguely reminiscent of the town of Pleasantville from the classic movie Pleasantville because everyone seems happy there.“  (AVI OFFER,The NYC Movie Guru)

„Angela Chistlieb’s documentary (or ‚fockumentary‘ as I like to call it) searches for signs of existence of an imaginary, utopian city, that no one has ever actually seen. Taken at face value the name ‚URVILLE‘ means ‚original city‘. It is the essence of place and our existence in it that her film tackles, and the search becomes both a poetic  and  literal expedition. In hindsight it seems obvious that utopia would only exist in our own backyards, but these things are never obvious at first. The backyards where the filmmaker lands happen to be four villages in the french countryside all co-incidentally named Urville, that are as magic as the imaginary place she set out to find. In this is the true magic of „Urville“ the film, as it eeks out, in the lives of the dairy farmer, the champagne grower, the circus family and the frenchman who dresses as a native american and lives in a teepee, an everyday, touching, sometimes desperate and sometimes hilarious search for a utopia of the soul. a.k.a, happiness.“ (EVE SUSSMAN, Rufus Cinema Press)

„Klug montierte Assoziationsketten mit gezielt gestreutem Bildwitz. Eine erfrischend leichte Doku-Fiktion, die durch ihren liebevollen Humor besticht.“ (PETER GUTTING, Kino-Zeit.de)

„Angela Christlieb sucht und findet den Mythos im Alltag, und mit Urville schafft sie außerdem noch so etwas wie einen poetischen Dokumentarfilm. Urville ist ein Dokumentarfilm mit einem dritten Auge, der hinter dem Schleier der Wirklichkeit stets noch eine weitere Ebene zulässt, sogar einfordert. So erhält die für eine Dokumentation unerhörte Prämisse, nämlich dass es Urville tatsächlich geben könnte, ihr Gewicht.“ (THORSTEN FUNKE, Critic.de)

„Drei Orte. Nirgends. Die Eigenwilligkeit ihrer Protagonisten ist derart absurd, daß man kaum an Zufall glauben mag. Das zugleich spleenige wie alltägliche Treiben der Dörfer kontrastiert sie mit stilisierten Großstadtbildern und Details über die Lebensbedingungen in Urville aus dem Off. Dadurch entrückt einerseits das dokumentierte Geschehen – zumindest partiell – auf seltsame Weise der Realität und zugleich erscheint die Vision von Urville als erlebbar. Und letztlich ist es ein Film über die unvorstellbaren Variationen des Lebens.“ (CORNELIS HÄHNEL, Schnitt)


  • DOX FORUM Copenhagen
  • Espoo Ciné International Film Festival
  • Festival des Deutschen Films
  • Internationale Hofer Filmtage
  • Ischia Film Festival
  • Max Ophüls Preis Festival Saarbrücken
  • Vision du Réel Nyon


Production Country: Germany, France
Original Language: French
Release Year: 2009
Duration: 82 minutes
Director: Angela Christlieb
Screenplay: Angela Christlieb
Production: Helge Albers, Roshanak Behesht Nedjad
Music: Eric Hubel, Wharton Tiers, Stereo Total
Cinematography: Yvonne Mohr
Editing: Angela Christlieb
Narrator: Maud Piquion GPS
Voice: Emmanuel Tellet

In Urville (Vosges): Denis, Marie, Audrey, and Aurélie Crémel Marie Agnus, Nicolas Thierry Christelle Denis François Grossi („Lone Wolf“) Roseau Sauvage

In Urville (Champagne): Patricia Raveneau-Laurent and Bertrand Raveneau Michel and André Drappier Madame Labonde

In Urville (Calvados): Nicole and Yves Goubert Coco („The Chicken“) Jean-Claude Plumair Daniel and Léa Corbin Amaidine and Aurélia