ZDF Studios and China Media Group partner for the first time to co-produce new blue-chip documentary Time: A Journey Through Thousands of Years

Mainz, February 7th, 2024

ZDF Studios and Film, Drama and Documentary Programming Center of China Media Group (hereafter referred as CMG) have announced their first ever co-production partnership, an ambitious two-part documentary on one of the most universal topics, time.

Time: A Journey Through Thousands of Years (2x50’), a ZDF production in co-production with CMG, in association with arte and global distributor ZDF Studios, explores the discovery of time, the history of time measurement and the effect is has on our lives today. Jens Monath und Heike Schmidt are the authors and directors in charge at ZDF, the same team that created the ground-breaking series 'Anthropocene - The Rise of Humans' about the human impact on life on Earth, which has sold worldwide and won numerous international awards.

Jens Monath, Director and co-writer on the project and Editor for Terra X at ZDF: ”It was a challenging project because how do you make time visible for television? We found remarkable stories about time and the perception of time. From a murderer who froze time and probably changed our lives more than anyone else, to why time seems to pass faster as you get older. And, more importantly, how do you 'live' longer, in the sense that even as an older person you can stretch time so that your life feels much longer than it usually does? We answer these questions in stories you have never seen before. And we promise you will think about time differently after watching the films.”

Hongyan Liu, Executive Producer on the project for CMG: “Time is omnipresent. Nowadays, we talk about it dozens of times every day, rarely pausing to contemplate its true meaning. In China, the observation and exploration of time began over 4,000 years ago, profoundly influencing our culture and way of life. The Chinese perspective on the subject reveals a markedly different understanding of time compared to that of the West. For us at CMG, it was particularly interesting to share the Eastern reflections on the concept of time, including its philosophical and poetic meanings.”

Ralf Rückauer, Vice President Unscripted, ZDF Studios adds: “We are delighted to partner with CMG and arte on this major production, a fascinating study on something familiar to us all which is so valuable but elusive that mankind can neither capture nor reproduce it.”

Time: A Journey Through Thousands of Years analyses long-term studies to see the effect time has on restricting our lives making moments of happiness rarer. Could we all escape a little from the time trap and have more happiness? After all, for every single one of us the clock ticks 31,556,952 times each year - but it also depends on us how quickly our time really passes.

Time is relative, said Einstein, and we all feel it. For no one experiences time in the same way, we all experience it differently. Einstein said that an hour at the dentist is not the same as an hour with a beautiful woman. The way we perceive time depends on which element we are in: in water, time tends to pass more slowly. The film shows this with a picturesque story about ice diving in the snowy mountains of Switzerland.

And we humans are the only species that can travel back in time. This mental time travel once allowed us to invent agriculture. We made a bet, so to speak, with future time. Today, mental time travel is a tool used in political mediation to find solutions to ongoing conflicts.

So Time: A Journey Through Thousands of Years is much more about measuring and inventing. It's about how we can live happier lives, not just as individuals, but perhaps as a species.


About ZDF Studios
ZDF Studios is a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest TV broadcasters in Europe. Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Mainz, Germany, the ZDF Studios Group operates more than 30 direct and indirect subsidiaries and affiliates in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom spanning TV production, distribution and services. The parent company, ZDF Studios, is responsible for global programme distribution, realisation of international co-productions, acquisition of licences and merchandising of successful programme brands under its own name, for ZDF and third parties. ZDF Studios has the largest German-language programme inventory in the world and a constantly growing range of international productions, consisting of series and mini-series, television films, documentaries and children's programmes.

The companies of the ZDF Studios Group cover the entire value chain from the development of scripted and unscripted TV content to production, marketing and monetizing, including TV and streaming licences as well as merchandising and online rights. The positioning of ZDF Studios as an integrated media company enables the development of innovative, outstanding and high-quality programmes and makes the Group an attractive workplace for German and international talent to flourish in a very inspiring and creative environment.

Contact ZDF Studios
Christine Denilauler (VP Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Studios GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, D-55127 Mainz/Germany, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, E-mail: christine.denilauler@zdf-studios.com, www.zdf-studios.com