Release year: 2007
Run time: 330 mins
Film type: Documentary
In the Greater Xing’an mountains of northern China, there is a group of people who share their life with the reindeer. These Ewenki people came from Siberia over 300 years ago. They have been living in the dense primeval forest and surviving on hunting and raising reindeers in their own traditional way.
In 2003, the Reindeer Ewenkis came out of the forest and moved down to the new settlement built by the government. Now with hunting also banned, the Reindeer Ewenkis find themselves in a dilemma.
The reindeer could not survive the “city life” either. So, a small number of the tribe moved back into the mountains again, back into their forest.
Liushia, a woman whose husband has passed away, numbs herself with alcohol. Besides the reindeer and her son, who is far away, there is nothing left for her in this world. Her younger brother, Weijia, is an alcoholic artist who is increasingly disorientated by life. He Xie expresses the sadness in his heart through his harmonica.
Time is passing… the sounds of deer bells are fading away… Maria Suo, the last chief of the tribe, watches time pass helplessly.
But does the forest the Ewenkis used to know still belong to them?
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). Gu Tao pursues his ethnographic documentary vocation from a home in the artists’ village of Songzhuang, Beijing.