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Hu Jie

Release year: 1995

Run time: 20 mins

Film type: Documentary


In the Qilian mountains in western China live nomadic Tibetan tribes. Their home is a tent made of yak hair. They follow the four seasons and move regularly in the mountains. The purpose of this is to use the limited space to allow the cattle and sheep to eat the best grass. During such migrations, the family members help each other, quickly tying the hidden bags and utensils to a strong yak. Then they mount a strong horse, whistle, sing old pastoral songs, and drive the cattle and sheep along the ancient nomadic routes from one valley or ridge to the next pasture. This film documents the nomads’ journey from the spring pasture to the autumn pasture. However, it is more important to record their spiritual world. Before departure, they exchange sheep, yak and wool for tea, fried noodles and money. Between the high altitude and the wilds, each of them, including the children, shows dignity and heroism. They believe that every mountain and every cloud is divine, and they believe that the sun and the moon are the Panchen and Dalai Lamas. They adhere to traditional beliefs and fear the gods of nature. The women chant the scriptures as they turn the prayer wheels, and the whole family performs religious rituals in front of small portraits of the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama every morning and night. They are passionate, friendly, and persevering.


Director biography

Hu Jie is an independent historian, artist, and filmmaker. Born in Jinan, Shandong in 1958, he graduated from the Art College of the People’s Liberation Army. He works in oils and woodcuts from his lakeside studio in Nanjing. His films are among the most important documents of China’s unacknowledged “unoffcial history”, and include Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul (2005), about a martyr-poet critic of Mao; and Though I Am Gone (2007), about an elite Beijing girls’ high school whose students murdered their headmaster at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.