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by Wei Bin
color, 88 min, 2001
A small film crew tracks a Kazak family in Xinjiang, China's western-most province, from spring to winter. Unlike the people of Kazakstan, who grew into a nation of farmers and workers, the Kazaks retained their nomadic life and a close bond with nature.
The Kazaks are a small minority among many more tenacious peoples of Xinjiang. To exist they went their way among the mountains and plateaus of the most remote region in the most desolate part of China.
The crew follows a typical nomadic family with 11 children as the family travel wherever there is grass for their animals. They endure incredible hardships, sometimes going several days without food. In spite of this they have moments of joy and beauty, believing that nature will support them and that they will survive.
The filmmakers' four-year-long effort shooting the film is part of a recent rise in Chinese filmmakers' documenting their country's ethnic diversity. Although it takes a classic ethnographic, observational approach, the film is stunning in its cinematic, epic style.
Richly informative for teaching anthropology, Asian Studies, nomadic cultures and kinship.
"Herdsman is a visually stunning and emotionally involving ethnographic documentary..." — Bo Smith, Film Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Award of Commendation, American Anthropological Association's Film & Video Festival, 2001
Honorable Mention - Alpine and Foreign Cultures Category, 16th International Mountain & Adventure Filmfestival Graz, Austria, 2004 First Place Winner, Black Maria Film Festival, various U.S. locations, 2002 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Arkansas, 2003 Asian Pacific Film Festival of Florida, Fort Lauderdale, 2003 Heard Museum Indigenous Film Festival, 2003 International Environmental Film Festival, Turkey, 2003 8th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2003 Durango Film Festival, Colorado, 2003 forumdoc.bh.2002, Documentary & Ethnographic Film Festival of Belo Horizonte, Brazil CineEco 2002, Portugal GlobalVisions Film Festival, Canada, 2002 Planet In Focus, Toronto Environmental Film Festival, 2002 Viennale International Film Festival, Austria, 2002 San Diego Asian Film Festival, 2002 Kalamata International Documentary Film Festival, Greece, 2002 Ecocinema Festival, Greece, 2002 Grand Prize, FICA - International Festival of Environmental Film & Video, Brazil, 2002 Gottingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany, 2002 Feature Documentary Finalist, Moondance Film Festival, Colorado, US, 2002 Beeld voor Beeld Festival, Amsterdam, 2002 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, April 2002 Paris Film Festival, France, 2002 Thessalonki Film Festival, Greece, 2002 D.C. Environmental Film Festival, 2002 35th BAC International Film & Video Festival, 2001 International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam, 2001 Margaret Mead International Film & Video Festival, New York, 2001 Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001>/br> 15th International Film Festival, Parnu, Estonia, 2001 Hawaii International Film Festival, 2001