Aoluguya... Aoluguya: the last Ewenkis in China wilderness


Aoluguya…Aoluguya - Gu Tao - 2007 - Color - 89min.

In the Greater Xing' an Mountain of northern China, there is a group of people who share their lives with the reindeer. The Ewenki people came from Siberia over three hundred years ago and have been living in the dense primeval forest and surviving on herding reindeer ever since.

In 2003, the Reindeer Ewenki came out of the forest and moved to a new settlement built by the government. Now with hunting also banned, the Reindeer Ewenki find themselves in a dilemma: they can either stay or return to the forest. Reindeer cannot survive in the city, and a small number of the tribe people move back into the mountains again, back into their forest.

Sunk in drunkenness they try to resist, not in the political way, they are completely aware of the size of China, but in the personal way, to a kind of modernization that will end with their ancestral way of life.

They know that the game is scarcer everyday and maybe even know that their culture is doomed. So they only insult every representative of the Chinese state they met and try to mock the law that will end with their traditional way of life, as their only reaction to a the last and definite crisis.

Liuxia is a widow who seeks solace at the bottom of a bottle. Besides the reindeer and her son who lives far away, she has nothing left in this world. Her younger brother, Vijia, is an alcoholic artist who is increasingly disorientated about life. He Xie expresses the sadness in his heart through his harmonica.

Their last stand in the natural camps in Xianganshan mountains provide a glimpse to the last stages of a culture incompatible with modern world. They keep their relation to the reindeers that now provide some income with its antlers. And they drink, drink and drink.

The story is told as the seasons goes by during more than two years. Every personage is a box of sorrows that only occasionally is permitted to burst.

Director Explanation

In my understanding, documentaries need life experience. When I begin to film, I feel like I am spying, but after a while it starts to feel like my own life. Everyone has their own personality, and they express themselves in very different ways, such as in their attitudes towards love and towards life. The Ewenki follow the Eastern Orthodox Church, and they let me right into their group. Suddenly I had found a means of expression. My early confusion, sadness and aimless suffering disappeared as soon as I entered Aoluguya. It wasn't that I was interested in making this movie, it just naturally came about through the passing of the seasons and the years.
In making documentary films, one can work on a single topic for a lifetime and never finish. But life is more important. If you are breathing, then you are living.

Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival

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