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Aoluguya, Aoluguya Issues Review Excerpts

Last Updated on April 12, 2020

These Evenki in the mountain are born philosophers, artists and thinkers. Their existence and gradual demise is partly caused by China’s one-sided pursuit of economic development and lack of respect for ethnic minority folk culture.

Lei Zi

We translate the local audiences’ reviews about issues presented in the film into English when possible. In this way, you can take a look at what local people think about these issues and have in-depth understanding about them. The number besides the reviewer represents how many upvotes a comment/review has received.

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Short Comments

The names of Jiagedaqi, Zhalainuo’er, Aoluguya, and Khingan in Inner Mongolia are always charming, but the harsh life in them is far from a spectacular civilization. The reindeer men are fools and wretches who fight after drinking and hurt themselves as well as others. After the guns were taken away, they talked about the Iraq war out of reach and beat up their few remaining clansmen, as did the idle people in all the country towns.
-Seamouse (8)

The hard truth is — you can’t get out and you can’t go back.
-Mu Duo Xiao Peng You (3)

“It’s a shame that the hunting culture has disappeared in our time.” With one sentence, I feel the antler cut off from the top of my head and feel a cold sting. Aoluguya Evenki township, is located in Genhe‘s northernmost part besides Aoluguya river, the western suburbs of the city. It is the northernmost township in Inner Mongolia and is the farthest and most mysterious branch’s living place of the Evenki.
-Lao Huang (3)

See what people say about the Evenki after seeing Gu Tao’s works.

The pure ethnic minorities have lost everything under the rapid development of economy. They are powerless to fight and can only paralyze themselves with alcohol. I can’t help signing and feeling sorry for their not fighting.
-Strelizeia (1)

Evenki culture and customs as the victims of the land reform and the reform and opening up of the People’s Republic of China.
-Ku Ku Er Kan (1)

Drunken, violent old lady, artist in the snow… They’re fun, but they’re also lost. Both the cinematographer and the people being filmed are thinking. “It’s a shame that the hunting culture has disappeared in our time.” It is even more a shame that as a Han Chinese observer, we have taken assimilation for granted.
-mOco (1)

As for the truth of the content itself, it can be used as the image to understand the life of Evenki people. But it is also the content itself that I really couldn’t like the documentary. They live in a crude, violent way, as if human civilization has never existed. All kinds of dirty words are acceptable for the time being, but I really can’t stand the behavior of hitting people without any reason. The cutting antler part really makes me feel sorry.
-Panda De Yin Ying (1)

Aolugaya seems to be related to cultural attributes. Weak culture in the face of strong culture seems to have only two destinies. One is assimilation, and the other is becoming history.
-Duan Xian De Er Duo

Aoluguya, Aoluguya film poster

How to describe this emotional touch, and the apology of one ethnic group for another…?
-Lady Midnight

Evenki is a very cultured ethnic group.
-Da Hui Lang

After all, a life of wine for pleasure is hard to hide the pallor of life.
-Yi Yi

Domestic violence exists in all ethnic groups, and both women and men are abusers and victims. It’s just that women take it more.
-Le Peng

We all live on the same land but are treated differently.

These Evenki in the mountain are born philosophers, artists and thinkers. Their existence and gradual demise is partly caused by China’s one-sided pursuit of economic development and lack of respect for ethnic minority folk culture.
-Lei Zi

An anthropological documentary. I don’t quite agree.

The pain of the process of Sinification.
-Shao Xue Han Er Hui Hu Shang

It’s really the phrase “human evolution.”

The director’s expression is neutral. We all cling to the big wheels of life.
-Hei Bai Lan Zi

We’re changing something which doesn’t want to be changed…
-Man Man Man Man

The wind of Aoluguya is transparent as flying. The night of Aoluguya is so gentle. However, they are died with the hunting culture in the current of modern civilization.

The loss of core of an ethnic group.
-Pierre Douce

The frontier culture full of human touch reactivates those marginal things and makes people see the deformity and pallor of their spiritual world. In this sense we may say that frontier culture is the true spiritual antidote.
-Mo Ma Ji Jie

Is it better to be assimilated or crushed by the wheel of history? Which is the brighter end?
-Ji Ji Xiang Shang

In Harmony with Nature

Is what now in Aoluguya our future?
-F Yi

Be alienated, swallowed up, and crowded out by modern civilization, and finally go mad.
-deo Z

Not only animals but also the Evenki living side by side with the deer that die out with the policy and the environment. They have no choice but alcohol now.

The indescribable lamentation of the world. This is not a national but a human problem. The sentient ethnic minority groups are eager to preserve their cultural traditions. However, are those who have a vision of modern life willing to be left behind?

I like Liuxia and her brother’s bold and happy drinking chic, but the other violence is incomprehensible. So this is their life. There is beauty in their free life in the Greater Khingan Range, and there is also helplessness in their environment.
-Luo Shan Yi Hou

As society moves forward, the ethnic minority has to lose their traditions. They are so helpless, and at the same time so powerless. I can’t help signing with emotion.

Under the influence of industrial civilization, our ethnic culture is constantly disappearing. Strong ethnic culture assimilate our language and living habits. The ancient ethnic group loses its way of life for a hundred years. A group of people get lost in the torrent of industrial civilization. What we lost is not only living habits, economic sources, and the dignity of life, but also the foundation of our ethnic group.

Can Evenki be Evenki without forest, reindeer, or guns?
-Qi Zhu Kan Zhang Ben

Sadly, will the ethnic group continue intact after a hundred years?
-Suan Cai

The demise of an ethnic group.

The epitome of ethnic minorities crushed by the tide of the times.
-Pi Sha Men Tian

Source: Douban

Aoluguya, Aoluguya is the first documentary of Gu Tao’s Evenki trilogy. Read endorsement and issues review about the second film Yuguo and His Mother.

Evenki the Victims

This may be a documentary that makes me smile, but the Evenki’s living condition is not optimistic. Thousands of years of traditions are broken in their generation. As a result, They will live in the same buildings and do the same repetitive work as the Han Chinese. In fact, their hunting is very principled. They never kill the mother and young animals, only the weak and sick. In contrast, it is the greedy Han poachers who are responsible for the current ecological crisis. It is the Han Chinese that the government should ban and the Evenki are the victims.

Wei Xiaobo, Douban reviewer (8)

Gather Deer Antler

Evenki Living Conditions

Taking year 2003 as the node when all the Evenki reindeer herders moved to the settlement, Aoluguya, Aoluguya shows the survival state of a group of Evenki people who returned to the hunting spot after the node. The film faithfully records the life of these Evenki between hunting spot and settlement with a focus on those in the hunting spot after the forced settlement. It shows the clothing (mostly camouflage, not traditional clothing), food (animal meat is no longer the main), living (Chums and larger tents), etc. In addition, the hunters’ main means of livelihood after their guns are confiscated — herding reindeer and gathering antler, and the alcohol problems they face are highlighted in the film.

The main characters whisper, chant and sing freely in front of the camera after drinking. It not only displays the romantic and free ethnic character of Evenki, but also directly expresses their helplessness and despair in the face of the cultural changes caused by external forces. “Drunkenness” is also a very obvious signifier, referring to the cultural maladjustment of the whole the Evenki reindeer herders in the face of the man-made cultural fracture.

With the help of several complete and clear Evenki characters’ individual emotions, or individual cases, Aoluguya, Aoluguya maps out the psychological imbalance and cultural fault of the whole Evenki under the background of cultural changes. The collective memory of Evenki people is made up of individual memory that the individual recalls continuously in the Evenki trilogy. It explains the hidden reason behind the appearance of “excessive drinking” — only drinking can make them forget the huge gap, sparse trees, confiscated shotguns, and life with nothing besides chopping wood and chasing reindeer in front of them.

Yorkshire, Douban reviewer (1)

Prejudice Against Ethnic Minorities

Indeed, there is too much prejudice against ethnic minorities. Thinking of them, the first thought is wild, bold and unrestrained, and the original ecology, as if everything is so primitive. But when they speak of expressionism and abstraction, which most people in mainstream culture even don’t know about, it does require a new look at these long-underappreciated people.

Sometimes, we are in the mainstream culture for too long and think that everyone should be like us. Evenki is a very pure ethnic group, and they have their own judgment and values. For example, their point of view on the officials makes people feel so delightful and satisfying. However, the officials don’t think it’s a pure ethnic group. As a result, they establish the settlements and break the roots of Evenki.

Maybe… When an ethnic group loses its faith and is forced into the mainstream culture, it finds that there is no faith in the mainstream culture. What kind of despair and confusion that is…? How can they continue to live…? What else can they do except for drinking?

Da Hui Lang, Douban reviewer

The Moon of Aoluguya Is as Clear as Wine

Reindeer and Poetry

Hunting ethnic group driven from the forest is like farmers driven from their own lands. Forests cover only 18% of the 9.6 million square kilometers of China. Therefore, the dominant position of farming culture is the destiny. The Han people who grew up on rice and vegetables could not understand the importance of the forest to the Evenki people, because it is the gentle and delicate Yangtze river and Yellow River water that is flowing in our blood. But in Aolugaya, people drink the strong liquor and eat the meat by hand. Even a tidy, white-walled building is no match for the humble Chum in the forest.

Reindeer are a divine medium in the forest, and the Shamanic Evenki regard reindeer as the most important part of their lives. Not only can hunters rely on sawed deer antler to make a living, but their ancestors have inherited a deep affection for reindeer. The reindeer, hunters, and the forest depend on each other. In this modern society, where concrete and steel gradually swallow up the original ecological environment, the transformation of reindeer from wild to captive reflects the same fate of Evenki people. Similarly, it’s just like the ancient oracle bone script which evolved from a living fossil into a high-tech enterprise symbol. What can stop these historical processes? What can make the time to rest in this snow-covered primeval forest in Great Hinggan mountains?

We seem to run so smoothly on the highway that we completely forget the danger of drifting off the track in zero gravity. “FMCG”, “industrial civilization”, “high-tech”, “efficiency”, “competition”… These unimaginative and hard cold words crowd into the mechanical life of modern people. We completely forget the trace of our ancestors, like the city population wants to completely destroy the evidence of that their ancestors were once local squires. So do you believe that a rootless state is perfect? And those with roots, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging are a generation of shame? I can’t help signing.

Related Info

According to statistics, since the 1950s, more than 100 people have died abusively in Aolugaya. The population of the entire tribe has plummeted to only more than 150 people. Increasing numbers of poachers have kept the reindeer population at 800 for nearly 20 years. At its peak there were only 1,200. Since 2003, when hunters turned in their guns and settled in the new village of Aolugaya, the bears and wolves have multiplied, and the reindeer are threatened daily by predators. A herd of about 100 reindeer was once chased far by three brown bears, losing at least 20 reindeer in the process. Eventually the reindeer split into several groups and never returned.

Correspondingly, the area of deforestation in the Greater Hinggan mountains is increasing at an alarming rate. Since the 1950s, the Mangui Forestry Bureau near Aoluguya alone has logged 9 million cubic meters of timber. In 1993-94, the so-called Asia’s largest timber storage facility was built. At the same time, the population is increasing rapidly, and nearly one million people enter the Greater Hinggan mountains forest region. Houses, schools. hospitals, office buildings are built, and each housing’s hills of firewood are piled neatly. The amount of timber consumed and cut down is almost the same. The Forestry Bureau builds roads and railways to transport timber. The Khingan is as busy as a market, and the forests retreat at least five kilometers a year.

Shui Ying Su

Homesickness in the Woods

The number of Evenki is small, but the proportion of artists is large. For example, there are many poets, painters, writers, singers. Gu Tao says it’s a characteristic of the ethnic group. I think it is the historical situation that makes everyone in their ethnic group think like a God, and the question of identity becomes a major topic in their daily life.

Learn more about this documentary by reading interview with Gu Tao.

Some of their own people die quickly, and most of them don’t enjoy their natural life span. This kind of death has even heavier implications for such a small tribe. Finally, these carriers of common cultural memory are disappearing, and the tribe’s civilization will become increasingly unsustainable.

We may not be able to account for the existence of this mountain tribe. As outsiders, if we expect to see something of human childhood, perhaps that expectation isn’t entirely wrong. However, there is a risk of thinking of it as an evolutionary laggard. Nevertheless, people who have matured in the stream of history have found that the ethnic culture is not a lower stage of lack of evolution, but a self-selected way of life.

Wang Xiaolu, The Economic Observer

Aoluguya, Aoluguya is the first documentary of Gu Tao’s Evenki trilogy. Read issues review about the last film The Last Moose of Aoluguya.

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