YU Guangyi, who has steadfastly detailed the lifestyles of people residing in Northeastern China’s mountainous regions, directs this documentary following the daily life of shamans in a poor village for over four years. When villagers become ill, shamans beat drums and go into a singing and dancing trance, becoming mouthpieces for spirits who relay ways of treating the people’s ailments. This documentary’s main focus is Xu, who worked as a teacher and factory accountant when he was young, and became a shaman in middle age. The film vividly evokes the mysterious way of life of the nearly 70-year-old Xu, his family, and other shamans. In addition, it is a chronicle of a time when people lived in close contact with the spirit world, as well as a culture that will soon disappear.
- TOKO DC INC.
Yu Guangyi depicts local residents struggling to maintain their traditional way of life amidst the pressures of urbanization, environmental degradation, social change and outward migration
Yu Guangyi was born in 1961 in China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province. A childhood love of drawing and painting led him to the southern city of Hangzhou, where he attended the China Academy of Art. Upon graduation, he embarked on a successful career as a wood-block print artist. Many of his best-known works are simple, moving, black and white depictions of rural life in the Changbai mountains, where he was born and raised. In 2004, after an absence of nearly two decades, Yu Guangyi returned to these mountains and began a series of documentary films about local residents struggling to maintain their traditional way of life amidst the pressures of urbanization, environmental degradation, social change and outward migration. Yu Guangyi divides his time between Datong city, Heilongjiang, and a cabin he built in the Changbai mountains.