Some films about the Moso


Overlapping Images: looking back on the Mosuo - Feng Weiying - 2009 - color

The celebration on 2005 of a Mosuo Film Festival, China's first film festival focusing on introduction a local culture, it brought together virtually every piece of film that documented or reflected the life of the Mosuo at Lugu Lake. The creening caused quite a stir. After each film there were heated discussions that inbvolved local Mosuo people, Mosuo who worked in other regions, or who had studied abroad, and people from other cultures... My lens acted as a third party as it focused on the Mosuo in front and behind the camera to reveal the contradictions and gaps between the Mosuo's view of themselves and the way they are presented by the outside media.

The Story of Yi Mi (Granny's house) - 28min - Color - 2008

Directed by Er Qing.

There is an ancient Mosuo village named Lijiaju in the mountains between Sichuan and Yunnan province. Every household in the village has a YiMi (Granny's living room), a holy place for a Mosuo family in which the family members hold all the important ceremonies such as: giving a birth, holding a funeral. It is also a place for meals, entertaining guests, family meetings, and different worship ceremonies. With the development of the society, this place attracts tourists from all over the world and they brought different stories.
Some foreigners came to the remote village to buy the YiMi (Granny's living room) of PinChu's to hold an exhibition in BeiJing. To promote the MoSuo culture, Athough PinChu promised to sell them the YiMi, which was passed down from generations to generations, he feels heavy-hearted. How to protect the traditional culture? People with different backgrounds have different opinions.

Jiacizhuoma and Her Big Maternal Family - 84min - 2008

Directed by Fan Zhiping.

The Mosuo, an ethnic group living in the Lugu lake area, still maintain their maternal society. In such a society, neither men nor women are married in the conventional way and both the family names and properties are inherited maternally.
Jiacizhuoma is the forth daughter of the second generation of the Caitas'. By an unexpected opportunity in 1983, Jiacizhuoma left her big and warm maternal family for Kunming and has been working there since. At the same time, the continuous arrival of tourists started to trigger irreversible changes in Lugu Lake. Now Jiacizhuoma is facing a dilemma: Should she stick on to her ancient maternal tradition and return to the Lugu lake or move forward to dive into the modern life of a big city?

This documentary was filmed from 1994 to 2005. Through the ten years' persistent work, the production unit recorded Jiacizhuoma's life and the Lugu Lake's vicissitudes factually. All these facts reveal the strength and tenacity of the Mosuo culture that roots deeply in Jiacizhuoma's heart and soul.

What shall we do? Change in Luoshui Village. Cao Honghua, Xie Chunbo. 2008 - Color - 38min

Luoshui Village, which belongs to Ninglang County, Lijiang City, Yunnan Province, is inhabited mainly by the Mosuo people. This beautiful village lies peacefully among the mighty ranges of northwestern Yunnan, on the shore of the graceful Lugu Lake. The Mosuo people have lived there for many generations and have kept their unique marriage system of walk-in marriages and extended matrilineal families. Since the late 1980s, Luoshui, with its beautiful scenery and unique customs, has been open to tourism development. Twenty years later, the impact of economic development can be seen in people's attitudes and ways of life.

What shall we do? Change in Luoshui Village it is a collection of interviews on change in Luoshui. The once relatively isolated and impoverished village has undergone tremendous changes in living conditions, ideas and lifestyles. Among these changes, some are positive; others are negative and worthy of concern. The Mosuo people of Luoshui are reflecting upon and discussing these issues, and this film functions as a fire around which the villagers get together and talk openly about the problems they face as a community. The film includes five aspects of their discussions: tourism, morals and virtues, consumerism, marriage and family and traditional language. The film reflects the sincere thoughts of the villagers, opening a window for the outside world to get to know the Luoshui Mosuo better.

Mosuo Song Journey - 37 min - 2007

Director, Videography & Editor: Diedie Weng

Producer: Diedie Weng, Carol Bliss

Surrounded by mountains, between the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Province in Southwest China, the Mosuo people have lived on the banks of Lugu Lake for over a thousand years, keeping a matrilineal tradition, in which women head the household. Within this unique background, the Mosuo have been encouraged by the state to develop tourism since the early 1990s. As a result, Mosuo society has started opening to the world and attracting increasing worldwide attention as “A Kingdom of Goddesses.” In the summer of 2004, Chinese filmmaker Diedie Weng accompanied American scholar Carol Bliss and Mosuo writer Lamu Gatusa to collect traditional Mosuo folk songs. From tourist-ridden villages to remote mountain hamlets, the film resonates with the singing of different generations of Mosuo people in a transitional period under the influence of tourism and pop culture.

The Women's Kingdom - Xiaoli Zhou, Produced by Xiaoli Zhou & Brent E. Huffman
China/US, 2006, 22 minutes, Color, DVD, Mandarin, Subtitled

Keepers of one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, Mosuo women in a remote area of southwest China live beyond the strictures of mainstream Chinese culture – enjoying great freedoms and carrying heavy responsibilities.

Beautifully shot and featuring intimate interviews, this short documentary offers a rare glimpse into a society virtually unheard of 10 years ago and now often misrepresented in the media. Mosuo women control their own finances and do not marry or live with partners; they practice what they call "walking marriage." A man may be invited into a woman’s hut to spend a "sweet night," but must leave by daybreak. While tourism has brought wealth and 21st century conveniences to this remote area, it has also introduced difficult challenges to the Mosuo culture – from pollution in the lake, to the establishment of brothels, to mainstream ideas about women, beauty and family. This finely wrought film is a sensitive portrayal of extraordinary women struggling to hold on to their extraordinary society.

The Lake of Romance - 2006 -

Directed by Zhou Yuejun

The changes in the life of the people around Lugu Lake after the explosion of trhe tourism in the area..

Mosu & Naxi Matriarchal tribes, Yunnan province, China - 4,5 min -

Yunnan province is the most biodiverse and beautiful province in China. It has half of all plant and animal species found in China and 52 of the remaining 56 ethnic minorities in the country. In this clip Manchán meet the O-Er-Do-Ju family in Lugu Lake, North West of Lijiang in Yunnan. He is accompanied by Miss Lu, a foreign affairs official. The father of the family sits at his mother's fireside and explains the Mosu system of family, in which the woman has complete control. He then brings up to meet his father who was a Buddhist monk until the monastary was shut down under Mao. He is now free to practise again. He gives Manchán a message to bring home to the West with him. The singers on the mountain are members of the Naxi minority and live near Lijiang.
Manchán Magan, Global Nomad Films.

A tale of Three Mosou women (San ge mosou nuzi de gushi) - 2001

Directed by: Zhou Huashan.

About the three generations of a Mosuo family.

Daba - Na shaman. - 1999 - 40 min.

Directed by Cai Hua

After more than a quarter of a century without any form of religious ceremony, the Na, an ethnic group living on the Himalayan plateau, began openly practising their religion again in the early 1990s. Their priests are called daba. Among the few old shamans who are still living today, Dafa Luzo is the most remarkable. As the main character in the film, we see him looking after his farm and his family, as well as performing rituals to expel all unclean spirits and demons and honour his ancestors. His main worry, and his greatest hope, is to make sure his knowledge is safely handed down to the next generation.

Visitors of the Night - An van Dienderen - China/Belgium, 1998, 34 minutes, Color, VHS

The failures of the ethnographic endeavor to discover “reality” are revealed in this expository and experimental film. The narrator-ethnographer embarks on an expedition to encounter the Mosou, an isolated and matrilinear tribe in the mountains of South West China. Their society is built on the principle of the axia-relationship, ties between ‘visitors of the night’. This means that a man only stays in his wife’s house at night and during the day he works for the benefit of his grandmother. Since men and women do not have economical obligations, their unique, polyandric relationships are based on love only. Recently due to funding by the Han government, The Lugo region has turned into a major touristic area, where tradition and modernity clash -- particularly when the polyandry of the Mosuo is seen as prostitution by outsiders. Van Dienderen, a visual anthropologist, playfully reveals the distance between textual knowledge and the experience of a cinematographic journey in a thoughtful and fascinating documentary.


Filmmaker and anthropologist: Hua Cai

The Na are an ethnic group in south-east China. Their particularity is that all the members of each household are consanguineous relatives; their social organisation is absolutely matrilineal and as incest is prohibited, like elsewhere, their sexual life mainly takes the form of nocturnal visits of men to women.

Winner of the (RAI) JVC Student Video Film Prize 1996.

Romantic Lake - 1997 - 30 min.

Director: Zhou Yuejun

Lake Lugu is located in Northwest part of Yunnan Province, China. The people of Moso are among the last group of minority in China, who live along the lake of Lugu, practice a marital system called "Roving marriage". The lake of Lugu is called the "romantic lake".
In Roving marriage, a mature man or woman can have several spouses at the same time. Men and women live in separate dorms in organized tribes. Their children are raised the mothers. Children often don't know who their fathers are.
The film depicts how the system affects people today and how the system itself has begun to change.

Mosuo Women - China - 12 min - October 1995

Journeyman pictures

In some parts of China girls are killed at birth but in the land the Chinese call the 'kingdom of daughters' womanhood is celebrated. High in the breathtaking mountains of south-western China, live the Mosuo tribe. The Mosuo maintain a society which is probably unique in the world. It revolves completely around women. Property is handed down from mother to daughter. In their language there is not even a word for 'father' and conventional marriage is unheard of. In the past the Chinese government tried to stamp out the Mosuo way of life but their culture is now flourishing again. The simple reason is tourism. The Mosuo live beside a beautiful lake, already a popular destination for Chinese tourists. But whether the culture survives remains to be seen - new-found prosperity and contact with outsiders has bought with it a clamour for a change for the Mosuo.

The Ladies of the Lake - 43 min.- July 1998

Journeyman pictures

This stunning film captures the beauty and rarity of the Mosuo women - a matriarchal community in south-west China.

The bashful Mosuo have been dominated by women for more than 2,000 years. In the Mosuo language, the word 'father' does not even exist. Yashima is a typical matriarch. At 65, she has five children, two grandchildren and smokes 80 cigarettes a day. Her children meet their husbands at the end of the day. 'That way we don't argue' explains Dizhi. Parties are for meeting a husband or a wife. Swirling skirts, flames and dancing stir aching hearts. The Mosuo people, like most Chinese, are shy about showing their feelings. They have three sacred taboos: it's forbidden to eat dog, it's forbidden to eat cat and it's forbidden to talk about sex. But overcoming their shyness, they tell us about love, marriage, divorce and the difficulties of living apart. The modern world is not far away though. Peking's family planning policy is dismembering Mosuo culture where large families are society's glue. The local government wants to transform Lake Lugu, in China, into a tourist site, with the Mosuo people as the main attraction. Some already earn money from the summer visitors that they take in canoe trips on the lake. Whilst most Mosuo view change as inevitable, there's more than a hint of sadness that the future may spell the end of their centuries-old traditions. A unique and touching film.

The "Azhu" Marriage-System of the Naxi (Moso) from Yongning. - 1965 - 61 min

Directors & Script: Yang Guanghai, Zhan Chengxu

Describes the Azhu marriage-system and matrilineal kinship of the Naxi from Yunnan Province. It documents how the Azhu marriage is practised and outlines its social background in this non-Han-chinese ethnic group. Also includes some Naxi (Moso) religious rituals like Daba shamanism, and ancestral ceremony of the Siri (matri-lineage).

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