Documentary Review: Aoluguya, Aoluguya (2007) by Gu Tao

“Aoluguya, Aoluguya” is the primary a part of a trilogy concerning the lives of the Evenk individuals, one of many 56 formally acknowledged by the state ethnic teams residing in China. Titled probably after the ethnic township the place numerous the thirty thousand Evenks in PRC dwell, but additionally paying homage to the nomadic reindeer herders’ previous, this film by Chinese language documentarian Gu Tao chronicles the every day lifetime of two siblings, brother Weijia and sister Liuxia, who’ve chosen to remain within the forest their ancestors lived in, as a substitute of shifting to the trendy however overseas and alienating ethnic settlement.

Aoluguya, Aoluguya is streaming on CathayPlay

Thorough Gu Tao’s documentary, we see the siblings talking concerning the current previous of their individuals quite a few instances. At all times with a way of longing and nostalgia, they reminisce how nice it was earlier than they had been prohibited from looking within the forests they used to dwell in. This severed their relationship with the land, Weijia, says, forcing them to maneuver to government-made settlements and methods of life which have divested them from their cultural id as nomadic pastoralists. Extra importantly, although, it has emasculated them, forcing them to begin ingesting as a way to deal with the vacancy of their existence.

And drink they do. Copious quantities, on a regular basis. Not solely Weijia, Liuxia, and the few Evenki left at their small settlement within the forest, however these within the government-owned buildings. The latter a seemingly lower than the previous, although. Weijia, himself drunk whereas telling this, even goes so far as to confess that alcohol has led to the deaths of a lot of his buddies. It’s going to kill him and his sister, too, the viewer can’t however assume, wanting on the two drink themselves to stupor every single day.

On a macro stage, alcohol, along with the modernization of China and the ban on looking, have helped destroy Evenki conventional tradition. It has finished the identical on a micro too, Gu Tao reveals us many times. It has strained their relationship with their outdated mom, who not solely pesters them to cease ingesting to the purpose of them having to search out methods to cover luggage of what appears like low cost alcohol in other places within the small tent the three share, but additionally appears to abuse them bodily and emotionally. On a fair smaller scale, ingesting has additionally shattered Liuxia’s happiness as a result of it is likely one of the causes her son, Yuguo, himself a topic of the second documentary of this trilogy concerning the Evenki individuals.

It comes as no shock to the reader that “Aoluguya, Aoluguya” is a really violent movie, each bodily and emotionally. The individuals punish themselves with alcohol, but additionally hit each other brutally, but casually, implying to us that it’s one thing they do on a regular basis. Even Weijia and Liuxia hit each other usually. The truth is, the film begins with the brother and sister at a prepare station, going in direction of their mountain settlement, when out of nowhere, Liuxia hits a passing stranger. He’s a pal of hers, she tells her brother, implying that she lives in a society the place violence has taken over intimacy. Or, probably, violence is intimacy.

The emotional brutality proven by Gu Tao, although, is far more tough to resist by the viewer. Although laughing and telling tales concerning the previous, oftentimes from horizontal positions of their beds, the eyes of the siblings convey a deep disappointment – for his or her misplaced methods of life, destroyed tradition, and darkish (even, non-existing), future.

And but, in all of that brutality and violence, there may be humanity, heat, and understanding, at instances even respect, coming from Gu Tao’s nonjudgemental digital camera. This makes “Aoluguya, Aoluguya” a rewarding, at instances even enjoyable, and deeply private expertise.



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