Review: Building a New Era of World Peace

Hsieh, Shih-Chung


Maybe the concept of wanting to remain in one’s native land only is a traditional Han Chinese concept, and maybe it is a territorial instinct universal to all mankind, or even all mammals. In other words, my home and my land offers the best hope of security and wealth. However, unexpected changes over time or in the environment can often create situations that push individuals towards strange lands or force them to leave their homeland. Increasing the focus to a microscopic level, I can find particular ethnic groups, communities, families or individuals who move from their homeland, yet long for their homeland. Apart from the strong emotional attachments that make a departure difficult, it is a somewhat comforting thought that I will be accepted by the world. Despite physical and mental exhaustion, the light of hope for a life still shines in that other place.

The eight international films related to the migration theme that have been selected for participation in the 2003 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival tell the above story both directly and indirectly, with both warmth and penetrating sharpness. Watching these films, our minds will sometimes be at rest, sometimes boiling with emotion. As you become immersed in the story, you get to know its every person and object. After getting to know them and coming out to write about them, you will find that you yourself are crossing borders, gaining a completely new understanding of about migration.

Non-Han China

There are two films from China, A Student Village and Ahlu and His Brothers. The former is a story about the Bai and the Lisu minorities, while the latter tells of the hard life of three Hani brothers and their family and clansmen. Both films make non-Han minorities their main theme, and show that individual or group mobility is a very common way to search for a better life in China’s distant areas.

Each summer and winter break, students at universities in central and western US leave their schools, emptying the university towns. Not until the holidays are over will the city streets once again be bustling with life. Much in the same way, the whole Tiandeng Village in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Yunnan Province becomes the biggest village in the area at the beginning of each new school term as elementary school students and their parents arrive from their distant homes to build and move into their dormitories. After the parents leave, the headmaster and the teachers become the village chiefs and the students become the villagers who study there. Teachers and students work as hard as they can, while also completing tasks important to all by taking care of the trivialities of every-day life, books, looking for water and food.

For a few years while still at school, students regularly move back and forth, until the day of their graduation. This village of the young becomes a tolerant and welcoming place connecting different mountain areas through friendship and highlighting the use of intelligent teaching and learning to reach the goal of actively uniting a nation that consists of a multitude of ethnic groups.

In contrast to the determination of A Student Village, Ahlu and His Brothers talks about the misery of life. Audiences will be upset over the inequalities as the crooks and cheats in hinterland China live off the hard work of the minority peoples. For a long time, this has left the main characters, who left home in search of a way to make a living, with no hope. We still don’t have the answer to the problem, but the moral courage that went into the making of this film is in the end able to make us fully understand the spiritual belonging of these Hani vagrants. When they manage to escape, they are afraid to return home. They cannot find jobs and everything looks bleak. Luckily, showing this film alerts the world to their misfortune. We all believe that help will be forthcoming, and when that day comes, the warmth of humanity will accept and tolerate hardship.

East and West

The festival organizers have chosen two films about the Japanese relationship with the West. These films put their finger on the core of the meeting between East and West in modern times. Green Tea and Cherry Ripe tells the story of a few Japanese women who married Australian soldiers during WWII and then followed them to Australia. Half a century later, some of these women still persist in speaking Japanese, while others are fluent in English; some constantly long for home, while others do their best to adapt; some are happily married, and others are alienated and isolated; some are introvert and worship Buddha, while others have an active social life; some are miserable dreaming of the past, others enjoy the present. Having experienced the changes in their own lives, they have opened the door to the challenge of cross cultural identification for the next generation.

Although Droppin’ Lyrics is concerned with the US, it could be seen as a continuation of the observations of the previous film. A hiphop group whose members are of Japanese descent draw on countryside, history studies, reflection and creativity to write songs giving a new meaning to war, human rights. acceptance, peace and patriotism. The film’s lead character frankly says that he uses his Japanese identity to demonstrate the new generation’s open-mindedness towards globalization in a world of interconnecting and simultaneously existing cultures where people move between different areas.

When compared to the Japanese migration experience, there are both similarities and dissimilarities in the experience of the Hmong people from northern Thailand (called Miao in China, a name the Hmong do not like) in the film From Opium To Chrysanthemums. For 30 years, from his youth to his old age, Lao Tong, the village chief, has led his people through violent internal and external attacks and big changes in their situation, such as the Lao-Vietnam war, the Thai extermination of communists, international anti-drug campaigns, deteriorating health, improved livelihood, a decreasing population, social prejudice, and the new era of peace. His persistence, bravery, rich affection and benevolence have brought peace to the villagers and makes family members emmigrated to the US remember him. The current peace has infused the villagers with a will to abandon drugs, and the meeting of East and West constantly reinforces the power of blessings across great distances. Whether Hmong or Japanese, these blessings enable their people and their children abroad to live on in the new world, and they make the self awareness and activities of the new generation (such as loud hiphop songs or the Hmong girl determined to serve in the White House) remain in our focus for a long time.


We all know the story about homeless drifting Kurds in Russia, Turkey and Iraq where resistance and escape become the normal way of life. The lead character in Silent Song is a refugee from Iraq to Edinburgh in Scotland. A singer, he sings a song named “Silent Song” following a spiritual exchange with his friends. He believes the song to be about eternal loneliness, and we therefore only see the singer singing a cappella, alone before an empty auditorium, without added pictures or colors. The silent song symbolizes the uncertainty surrounding the future of his own people. The completely unaccompanied and hoarse voice becomes a shrilling accusation. He has moved to the quiet of Scotland, where the cold winds carry an old luster that effectively reflects the refugee singer’s and songwriter’s powerless yet powerful life of resistance.

Vanishing, which tells the story of a small village in eastern Serbia, is a tragedy made on the initiative of the film’s producer. As a result of the urbanization and industrialization, the young have left the rural village and families have moved away, causing the population to fall sharply. There is only one little girl left in the school in this village in former Yugoslavia. Only some ten minutes long, the film shows fragments of the girl passing by the older generation and their ancient farming work. The village is full of old faces and old bodies. When she walks to the end of the village, the little girl suddenly sees a fashionable young woman. It is the teacher, the only young person in the whole film, apart from the young girl roaming the village streets.

Is there really no hope for the village? Maybe the hopes merely have changed. Just like with the Kurdish singer, it is not that there is no hope for the people, but rather the hope is that the village will come back to life in a distant future, when the people that have moved to the city in search of their hopes will start to gradually return following yet another fundamental change to the environment and to their minds. There will always be places where refugees are accepted, such is the tolerance of the world, and those are also the places where people prepare to begin a new life.

Jakub tells the story of the Ruthenians over the last 100 years, entangled in the difficult issue of identity in the nation states of Ukraine, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Russia. They have been subdued, ruled, assigned names, abandoned and moved, and their identity has long been kept deep in their hearts, hesitantly. Seeing the independence and strength of the Czech Republic, where they belong in their hearts, they hope to be able to get her back in future.

The Old and the New Home

The festival films bring us into the worlds of main characters from different places. Year after year, children keep moving into the village in A Student Village, where the new community becomes the “big world”, transcending the small society of the family. This “big world” verifies the students’ diligent quest for knowledge, as well as the students’ and their teachers’ incomparable tenacity in a life of poverty. For the tiny village population, the permanent move from home during the school term clearly carries a deep sense of character building. Alu and his brothers drift around. Leaving home in search of a living, they are cheated and hurt, and each place feels evil. They cannot return home, and a new home remains elusive. China should be ashamed of this situation, but luckily there are directors who will fight for justice. By their putting out good movies, the unlucky will finally turn lucky. Finding a safe new place to live, and with the future care and concerns of the international community, the Hani youth will certainly be able to distinguish themselves. Australia and the US have built a relationship with Japan. From having been enemies, they have become friends. Their relationship has been transformed from being a supervisory relationship into a husband-and-wife relationship, where they have grown to know each other. The past 50 years show that the Japanese wives have succeeded in building a positive understanding of Australians and of their local traditions. This is the reason why these women from a different place have been able to settle down and enjoy a long life. Based on this foundation, the longing for Japan becomes even more precious. The US has given the young hiphop musicians ample room for self-reflection. Free and leisurely exchanges between Japan and the US allow them to promote peace through their creative activities. The tolerance and achievements of their new home is praiseworthy. Hmong emigrants are the most confident. Not only are they working hard to move onto the political stage, the open-mindedness of the new world also gives their family and people back home full confidence that they will be able to abandon the drugs and begin anew. People in both the old and new homes cooperate to create a new era of peace.

The Kurd musician, the little Serbian village and the Ruthenian people are more tragic. They may find themselves in a very difficult situation, but the silent song is already heard across the globe. Both you and I know that everyone has heard it, and that the strong sympathy it has awoken can be used in future. The situation for the lonely, studious little girl in the Serbian village is special. The old school worker strikes the bell, the pretty teacher arrives on time and all the villagers do their best working the fields and raising their cattle. They all maintain their vitality and they are not afraid that their lives will fall apart. The city accepts great numbers of migrants, but may not do so forever. There are many examples of people who leave in the blink of an eye. “Vanishing” is a shocking title, but it is also carries the opposite sense of the exciting vitality of future hope. The discussion of state and ethnic identity is becoming more and more open, and with the world lending a helping hand, there is no reason why the Ruthenians’ home should not be happy and full of laughter.


A film will always have a main theme. The foreign films on the migration theme in this year’s Ethnographic Film Festival are both happy and sad, joyous and bitter, and they talk about history as well as the present day. There are many kinds of migration, but none that does not run counter to the wish to remain in one’s native land. In other words, anyone leaving their home will shed tears. It is not hard to understand the difficult emotions of someone not letting go of the present, and not knowing what will happen in future. However, in the end, leaving is a fact. Some of these people are stable (the students in Tiandeng Elementary School); some are without hope, but remain persistent (Alu and his wife); some think back and cry, but are also happy (the Japanese wives in Australia); some are full of confidence, pounding at the historic political chore (the Japanese descendents making hiphop music in the US); some are busy tying a blessed relationship between Asia and the US (the Hmong chief and his family and people); some pin their hopes on the calm of northwestern Europe (the Kurd singer of the silent song); some are only one single studious child (the little Serbian village); and some are searching collectively for an identity, never losing heart (the Ruthenian people).The main point of these stories is that when leaving, there will always be a place where you will be accepted, what I call “tolerated,” and that place will often become the new home. China has to work harder and offer more places for the suffering to settle down. If the new home is beautiful, there is also a greater chance that both the image of the old home and the actual old home will be as beautiful. This is the true meaning of the new era of peace. The whole world is working hard to create a humane and just new world.

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Review: Moving is the Start and End of the Story

Wang Song-Shan

There are numerous reasons for moving and migrating: for work; for marriage; for endless wars; or merely for wandering. Its form is not limited to one-directional or of a constant type. Man’s moving and migrating may be the drastic kind of never looking back; the coming home led by homesickness; or the back and forth due to indecisiveness. The beginnings and ends of life’s many stories are made possible by moving and migrating.

How much can man get when they go out to work? Can they return home sound and safe? In fact, it cannot be foreseen. Taiwan is the ideal working place for people living in Thailand’s poor areas. Till now, up to 150 thousand Thai laborers are here in Taiwan. Even if their dream of coming work in Taiwan can be fulfilled, often that’s not without costs. Daw-Ming Lee’s “Shattered Dreams” recorded the contention process the five job-cut Thai laborers joined with the unemployed, after an electronic factory in Tao Yuan shut down. Because foreign laborers have to pay large sums of brokerage fees to work in Taiwan, further with their unpaid salary and the monthly savings deducted, soon made the laborers into drastic living conditions. Whether or not that justice has been made is not the main issue of the film. Under Thailand’s not wealthy economical society, the three laborers sent back to Thailand still need to work, whether that place is in Japan, Switzerland, or Taiwan.

Intra-island migration in Taiwan, the building of a work and a family talk about different stories. The east coast origin Ameis come to this hopeful Taipei with the simple longing to have their own career and family. They started their new home “Huadong New Village” at the intersection of Hsichih Shin-tai Rt. 5 and N. 2nd highway, the grayish area between cities. No water or electricity is okay. But hoping for a better living is not easy. Wen-Chieh Tsao’s short film “Dreaming of Home-Marginal Tribe of the City” heavily presents as years pass, dreams of the Ameis in “Huadong New Village” are still afar, but again forced to move. Home is drawn out by the young painter; more of a fantasy than of something real. The Ameis on land far from their homes, fathers and sons, sing Taiwanese karaoke with no accents. Bicycles running, one youth saying” …cannot speak our dialect; cannot dance; either can I make those kind of sticky rice…, so our culture can’t be reserved. Anyways, it doesn’t matter!”

Ameis are not the only ones losing their culture and having identification difficulties caused by moving changes. Over a hundred years ago, ancestors of the Tachens followed yellow croakers from the coastal region of Zhejiang County to Tachen Island. Some forty years ago, because of war, tens and thousands of Tachens came to Taiwan and become anti-communist heroes, being called “the Tachen heroic fellows.” And some thirty years ago, in search of better living, some Tachens stole into the US and become chefs. Mayaw Biho’s long film “Coming and Going, Island of Tachen” talks about Tachens’ continual leaving home. When cross-straight tension lowered, a few Tachens went over the straight, upstream, on their journey back home. No more of the moral indignation back then, just some reminiscent pictures in mind. The land can still be told, but everything is different on the island, not even their ancestors’ graves could be found. Their past is fragmented. Tachens in threes places, although they still gather, play MJ, newly-weds still kowtow, the new cross-Atlantic Tachens will ultimately have different identity forms. Tachens endlessly moving to foreign lands are like newly-wed brides, into others’ place, starting their new journey.

Nai-Hui Huang, a cerebral palsy victim, an ambitious individual, a little well-known in Taiwan, married Navy, a Cambodian twenty years younger. Why marry Navy? And why “yes”? Tsung-Lung Tsai’s documentary “My Imported Wife” shows the unusualness of cross-national marriages, and the numerous latent dangers of weak bounding. All Navy wants is to help her family in Cambodia. But the eagerness to protect his own family, it is inevitable that Huang holds enmity toward his mother-in-law. The dramatic tension is structured on the two’ uncovered conflict worsened by the trip to Cambodia and the two-month trip the in-law took to Taiwan. Huang and Navy, a cerebral palsy victim and a foreigner, their arguments are smooth, strong and to the point. What was the no-line mother-in-law thinking, when Navy said in Chinese, “If I’m not poor, why would I marry you?” In this cross-national marriage, we see the earthly truth of many bindings. As for sexuality, age, culture, work, city and country, rich and poor, though not invincible, they are gaps not easily crossed, and the reasons of different types of conflicts.

Chao-Ti Ho’s “County Road 184” is Taiwan’s first music contention documentary about the music band’ recording process in the tobacco building in Meinung, Ping-Dong. The playing of Hakka music and traditional melodies warmly presents the band members living and working in their hometown; receiving awards at home and their cultural achievements in Prague, Belgium and Paris. At the mountain foot of Mienung, east of County Road 184, scenes of real life keep going on: usual like labor exchange for tobacco plantation; fierce like the dam issue, the cry of “leave good water, good mountain for our descendants; fight against the dams if you’re good men, good women;” wandering like the foreign wives learning new words, singing together in hakka “anxious sky, anxious earth, boundless is the Pacific Sea” or “time makes foreign grounds into home,” expressing their marrying-oversea-feeling. Coming home with rewards, the Labor Exchange Band goes along County Road 184, following traditional rituals, and come to worship the earth god. The unmoving Meinung is the index of the youths’ come and go. The flowing of cultural imagination along with the youths’ energy startles life’s new rhythm.

Unmoving land holds men’s endless needs. People come, then go. Like the unseen youth of Meinung, Rong-Shien Chen’s “Mountain Keepers-Song of Chung Giao Keng” start his story with an elder going to town to get letter; and describe the hakka elders spending their whole lives in this beautiful mountain village of centuries of migrating history. The youths already left for the cities. Chung Giao Keng is a deserted place. It used to have over a hundred families, but now left with only some twenty. With the passing away of the elders, the population is still on the decline. For those aging with this un-aging place, 70 is considered young; the sweet-potato 90-year-old mama isn’t old, she still can walk up the hills, nimbly bend and cut the grass, even feed some over a hundred chickens. Those looking after the mountain work diligently, live simply, continue on with seasons’ offerings, visit from door to door, and recollect the past.

The song of Chung Giao Keng, the elders sing about the inescapable tranquility. But they still have their imagination. Mi-Sen Wu, “Experimental Taiwanese” shows how the supposed calm life of foreign-county-origin Mr. Chu has been sparkled through the encountering with “Changjiang No. 1” in Taipei. His life becomes lively and homesickness has a new interpretation. Mr. Chu spent money learning Taiwanese to buy things in the market, and to sing the famous Taiwanese song “A Little Umbrella.” The incognito “Changjiang No. 1” is Chu’ sorcery to his passed life. The controversial “Changjiang No.1” plays an important part in Chu’ life and even is his hope of winning the lottery. Chu takes care of his long-time companion, doing husband’s duty. Inserted with the confusing role-changing, national identity, the life of Kanashima Yoshiko, those things related with espionage, seemingly true, seemingly false, the story is in fact talking about the nature of man’s moving and migrating.

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Review: Entering the New Window of the 21st Century

Lee Chi-Ning

Besides using “migration stories” as its theme, “the 2nd Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival” also chose thirteen joining films into this “New Window” section. Although these 13 films have different topics, show different styles, consist of different regional cultures, from Taiwan, China, Canada, Indonesia, Ethiopia, to Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, in whole, it can be considered a collection of international ethnographic films for the past two thousand years; a world view after entering the 21st century. Many issues or problems roused during the later half of the 20th century, like e-media, race identity, homosexuality, the millennium, and even the 921 earthquake in Taiwan, etc., have been directly or indirectly touched in these films. Also through the lively and unique presentations of these events in the films earned these issues more attention.

To Taiwan, the 921 earthquake in 1999 can be thought of as the century end’s most shocking event. It’s not only a devastating disaster, but the reconstruction afterwards is also an enduring test to Taiwan’s society and mind. Ching-Hui Lee’s Forward Forest Dream is about the rebuilding of a campus after the 921 earthquake. Nei-Hu Elementary School, in Lu-Gu Town, Nan-Tou, faces the dilemma of not being able to reconstruct the campus at its original location after the earthquake. All school faculty, the students and enthusiastic parents hopefully planned to move the school into the forest, make it into an eco-elementary school. But in reality, their “forest dream” has been continually let down due to the inaccessibility of the experimental forest land belonging to National Taiwan University (NTU). Here on one side is NTU, having boundless academic and social resources, objecting the idea of moving the school into its planned spot due to forestation reason; on the other, a little mountain village, with no more than a hundred faculty and students fervently wishing to rebuild their school. Is academic and forestation more important? Or is it the enthusiasm after one’s dream? This deep, sincere film not only records the process of the school’s rebuilding, but also leaves a thoughtful introspection for Taiwan’s society after the earthquake’s reconstruction.

Nei-Hu Elementary School, in Nan-Tou, Taiwan, finally has its “forest dream” fulfilled after several hardships. Holding the same educational enthusiasm and idealism, top composer Tien-Fong, from China’ Central Band, Beijing, started Yunnan Ethno-Culture Minority Institute in Yunnan in 1993 through self-raised funds. But after seven years, the institute had to shut down due to shortage of funds. With the following losing of the lawsuit, Tien-Fong died of lung cancer in June, 2001. Xiao-Jing Liu’ Chronicle of the Minority Institute historiographically records the tragedy of Tien-Fong and his institute. “Seeing the rising of building, and seeing it falling,” as we follow the camera along with Tien into the fields finding ethno artists, chatting with local cultural officials who are after economic development, we are dazzled by the sudden music played by the Hanis and the Biens; stirred by Tien’s persistence and his dream. Later when reality heavily forces on, don’t we also feel the sorrow?

How many Yunnan’ minority ethno music have been lost due to the falling of the Institute? Ethno and music has also been the theme of two other films from Taiwan: Chien-Hsiang Lin’ Dawu Melody and Han-Sheng Chang and Ke-Shang Shen’ Silent Cello. For the Dawus living generation after generation on Lanyu Island, life is often with singing and songs. But in Dawus’ language, there is no word as “music.” Dawus’ “music” is “simply using sound as a media to express the every side of life, not seeking the union between sound and the event of pleasing the ears.” Through the film, Lin uses Dawus’ “music idea” to challenge the music boundaries set by traditional concepts.

The boundary seen in Chien-Hsiang Lee’ Dawu Melody vanished in Chang and Shen’ Silent Cello. The film records the “musical encounter” between David Darling, a cellist of classical musical training, and the Bunun of Luwu Tribe in Taitung. The musician with child’s simplicity and the humble villagers use music to start the interaction and conversation crossing the boundaries of language and culture. Lastly, through this cross-cultural communication, made possible by music as the agent, inspires us that the true key to cultural communication and music conversation is not music or culture itself, but is the attitude of whether or not the parties want to accept and listen to one another.

The cellist in Silent Cello took a long journey into the mountains in Taitung looking for conversation; and for the two near 40 Bunun in Wuhalition: Tears of the Moon, they go into the mountains after the mythical rock that holds the “moon tear.” The long time myth of the Bunun: “Long, long time ago, there used to be two suns. There was this father and son who couldn’t stand the heat and went a long way to shoot the suns down. It took them dozens of years before getting one down. The one shot down become the moon and fell into the valley. It molded rocks to hold its tears. And the tears have been kept and will not dry out.” Anu Takilulun from Dongpu have been hearing this story from his father since childhood. After Anu’s father passed away, he noticed that no one else know the location of the tears. In worry of the lack of energy when aged, he decided to search for the moon’ tears following his father’s descriptions… A simple motivation, with simple plot, structures the touching, symbolic-filled identity-searching modern fable.

At the end of December, 1999, when the world is infatuated with the coming of the millennium, anthropologist Eytan Kapon brought his camera back to Yachaju Village in New Guinea where he’d done field work. To most villagers that already become Christians, the millennium means the coming of the ultimate “moment of the truth.” Will the diseased ancestors and Jesus Christ really come back into lives as prophesied? And the long unseen anthropologist just brings more turbulence into the already stirred village. How, in actual, do the villagers, wandering among tradition and modernity, Christianity and traditional faith, face this cross-century belief crisis? Letter to the Dead calmly but roundly presents this meaningful ethno issue.

The traditional versus modern belief crisis caused by the millennium and the anthropologist in Letter to the Dead has been shown in a different form in Martime Journet and Gerard Nougarol’ Indo Pino: Indo Pino is sick. As the highly respected witch doctor, she is the Wanas mythological doctor. Wana is a tribe of merely 1,600 people, located at the far deserted east coast of the Sulawei Islands in Indonesia. But now this magical doctor is sick, to the point that she can’t get off bed. To all the other witch doctors from afar and to Indo Pino herself, her disease is caused because being hooked by Pue Bulanga’, the god in the world, hook. So a recuperation ritual is necessary. But to this visiting anthropologist, seeing the long-reported sickness, he also faced a painful moral decision: whether to offer his at hand medicine, but breaking the villagers’ belief in traditional medical practice and the great doctor; or leave alone and let the doctor suffer? In the far away mountains, a sickness accidentally triggers the belief crisis in the choice between life and dignity, and between western and traditional medicine.
From belief crisis to racial conflict, the Mi’gmaqs lived generation after generation at Canada’s Miramichi Bay. They are known for their superb fishing techniques and delicate birch bark canoes. Starting from the 17th century, the Mi’gmaqs have frequent contacts with the European immigrants. Many of them become Catholics, but still earn their living mainly by fishing and catching lobsters. But as the development of commercial fishing in the bay area, fiercer competition occurs between the Mi’gmaqs and local fishermen. Finally, in 1993, because a Mi’gmaq was sentenced due to illegal fishing, continual conflicts followed. Although in 1999, the Supreme Court reached a resolution admitting the Mi’gmaq’s fishing right in the area; it also caused the revolt of the other local fishermen, who took fiercer means. And the conflict stretched from the court to violence. The Mi’gnaqs’ livings and lives are threatened; the community is also splitting. Is the Crown at War with Us? honestly records this racial conflict course, and also looking into the historic source of the hundred-year crash.

Homosexual marriages are not unusual, but adopting kids afterwards is. One day, Kelly and Williams, a homosexual couple living in San Francisco, idiosyncratic to the general public, made a “traditional” decision: adopt a kid and become dad. But this isn’t a small issue; it’s much easier said than done. Not to mention other things, how can the kid accept the fact that he has two “fathers” but no “mother?” And more, can the law and the society accept a family like this? In fact, things are much more complicated than they thought. What if one day the couple separated? What to do when “grandma” holds her homosexual son’ “son” knowing not to be happy or to be sad? And also if being adopted is a kid of different race, not only do they face “sexuality” but also “racial” problems. Being afraid that their kid will be discriminated when together with normal families; but taking the kid to homosexuals’ gathering will leave him with no kid’s playing facility, because homosexual group never thought of the possibility of children’ presence. Obviously, this homosexual “parenting manual” is more complicated and twisting than the usual. Daddy and Papa humorously, warmly talks about this “homosexual parenting issue,” alongside make people ponder the flexibility and limitation of the family: man’s oldest structural system.

It is true that we all have our cross to bear. Daddy and Papa talks about the sweet and bitter of homosexual family. And Duka’s Dilemma talks about the Hamar family crisis in Ethiopia, Africa. Duka is the mother of five children. She felt down right after her husband married another young, beautiful wife. Although in Hamar’ tradition, polygyny is allowed, in fact men seldom practice that. Duka’s husband’ remarrying left Duka questioning: Is she old and ugly now? Or is it because of her chronicle sickness? At the meantime, the 2nd wife is definitely becoming a prick to her eye. Who knows what she’s always plotting on her mind? And lately her mother-in-law is also finding faults on her, feeling uncomfortable about the fact that her son married a 2nd woman without her consent… The uneasiness in the family finally openly burst out when the 2nd wife gave birth to a kid. Through the directors’ long-time field experience, the film delicately and vividly outdraws this family crisis in Africa.

Does death mean the end of power? To the paramount chief, Alfred Melotu, of Reef Islands in the Solomon Islands, it is not so. As a typical Big Man in Melanesia, Alfred Melotu had prestige when he lived, he called and people followed. Will the lands, fortune, fame, status he earned vanish and be forgotten along with his death? Alfred Melotu: the Funeral of a Paramount Chief documents the life and the grandeur funeral process of this prestigious Melanesian paramount chief. Then, along the film’s zooming, we slowly realized that the film itself is also the chief’s prearrangement. Although he left and the fine funeral had ended, the chief in the film still wears his uniform, inspects his lands, shows off his badges and fortune. When everybody gathered in the house after the funeral, watching this film, they realized: the paramount chief is still with us!

The Melanesian paramount chief in Alfred Melotu: the Funeral of a Paramount Chief uses modern media to earn eternity; Oh What a Blow that Phantom gave me! further reflects on the relationship between modern media and tribal society. Modern media (recorders, radios, TVs, movies, even the Internet) vastly invading into tribal society has a history no longer than a hundred years. But the impact on world tribal culture is unprecedented: widespread and gigantic. The film is an academic autobiography of anthropologist Edmund Carpenter. In the earlier time in anthropology field, Carpenter is considered idiosyncratic, a very modern anthropologist. Back in the 50s and 60s, he already started to probe into the impact modern media has on tribal society: “The media will conquer all tribal culture in a magnitude we cannot control.” To discover the media’s influence, he boldly made the so-called “upfront” experiments in the fields of New Guinea, like handing the recorder to the villagers who never seen the machine before. The result was not necessarily of the “aborigine’ view,” but the other way around, the media, through powerful means, “galloped” the tribal culture: making the exclusive ritual music into accessible canned music; turning tribal culture into viewable, awing “spectacle.” Carpenter’ “upfront” concept and doings was once rejected by the anthropology field, but today, with the media’ permeability, he seems to be the harbinger, worthy of our contemplation.

Carpenter’ reflection on e-media and the tribes in the 60s can be seen from a different perspective in Media Nomads. The Thaiday Brothers are aborigines born on Palm Island, Australia. Like most other aborigines in Australia, their early days were hard; they watched the upper generations being oppressed; wandered in the cities, addicted to drinking when young; finally found their missions: traveling within Australia promoting aboriginal radio stations, letting the aboriginal voices heard everywhere through the media. In the past, media had unprecedented changed the tribal culture, but today, we finally see the tribal people learning to manifest this power, that once totally changed their tradition, and turning it into the force to change the world.

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