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Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Independent Films

Curatorial Statement

The histories, cultures and realities of ethnic minorities in China has been a notable topic in Chinese independent cinema. Apart from collecting films on ethnic minorities, CIFA also collects other creative works by filmmakers, such as photographs and drawings. We have curated this themed exhibition based on our current collections, and will continue to update it.

Both Chai Chunya and Gu Tao have paid long-term attention to Chinese ethnic minority groups. For more than a decade, Chai travelled to border cities and towns in Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria, making his film series The Border. Gu spent 10 years living with the Evenki while making his Evenki trilogy. Alongside the films, both filmmakers have also used other artistic forms to document what they have seen and experienced in ethnic minority areas, including paintings, photos and novels. CIFA has collected their graphic work and presents a selection here. 

Chai Chunya was born in 1975 in a village in the province of Longxi Gansu of China as remote as the place where he set his debut film Four Ways to Die in My Hometown. He studied politics and law before starting to work as a journalist and photographer for, e.g., Southern Weekend (the most liberal paper in China). He made many journeys, including through Tibet, Xinjiang, North Korea, Yunan, Inner Mongolia that formed the basis for his second film The Border , three novels and several photo series.

Gu Tao

Gu Tao was born in 1970 in Inner Mongolia, China, where his father was an ethnographer and photographer. Gu graduated in 1995 from Inner Mongolia Art College with a major in oil painting. After studying photography at the China Academy of Art in Beijing, he started making documentaries, many of which have one awards at international film festivals (Yamagata 2011, Singapore 2012). Last Moose is the third of his Aoluguya trilogy, which includes Aoluguya, Aoluguya (2008) and Yugou and His Mother (2011, awarded top prize at Yamagata Festival, 2011). Gu Tao founded Inner Mongolia Film Week in 2016.