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09:48 Jan 19 2012

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Western herdsmen record environmental changes with camera
09:44, January 19, 2012  

Namgyal focused his camera on Gozhub, a rare gazelle living in his family.

Namgyal, a normal herdsman in Qinghai Province, recorded the daily details of Gozhub and his son Kelzang Rgyal playing and growing together, and presented the harmony and brotherly feelings between them. However, Gozhou's wildness began to show. He faced a dilemma: to send it back to the nature or continuous take care of it. After all, the family has taken care of this rare Przewalski's gazelle since its mother died.

In 2007, Beijing Shanshui Conservation Center, an environmental protection NGO, launched a public service video program, "Eyes of Village", to help people living in the western China to record their anxiety and expectation about environment from their own perspective.

"We put the camera into the hands of ordinary people, and hope to give them a new way to record their life and environment around them," said Lv Bin, who is in charge of the program.

In 5 years, seven training courses have been held in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and other areas, more than 80 ordinary farmers and herdsmen from these areas have learned to produce creative works independently, and an image exchange platform is provided to them.

Despite of the harsh environment, students learned earnestly and teachers from Shanshui Conservation Center tried to use the easiest words to explain the complicated filmmaking knowledge.

In addition of theoretical knowledge training, the most exciting to students is to discuss the theme of their future film.

Geleg Nyima, a monk from Qinghai said he wanted to film Cordyceps. "Now the Cordyceps is more expensive than gold. There are too many people living on digging the Cordyceps. As a result, the Cordyceps becomes less and less, and the condition of mounains with the Cordyceps becomes worse and worse," he said.

Ye Qing, a village party secretary wanted to make films about the garbage around his village. He said, "We used to have no concept about garbage. The leftover bones and worn clothes thrown on the marsh are biodegradable, and water could take the garbage away. But now, more and more plastic and chemical fiber products were brought to the village, which water could do nothing about."

Through the inspiration of the "eyes of villages", farmers and herdsmen could present vivid stories to the world through cameras in their hands.

The film “Cow Dung” shot by a 30-year-old herdsman from Qinghai shows that the real cultural foundation of grassland is noting else but the ordinary cow dung though it is disdained by urban residents. in his film, the cow dung could be used everywhere on the grassland: it could be used to build walls, make sheepfolds, build kennels or even "refrigerator" to store fresh meat, the pile to tie cattle on, ophthalmic for livestock and toys for children.

Lantser, the film maker, wrote in the introduction to the film: "We are getting closer to the life without cow dung. It also means we are getting closer to the days when we are lost, in disaster and being enemies with the nature."

When the film was screened at the Peking University, many audiences from pastoral areas almost shed tears for the film evoked their childhood memories.

As of now, "eyes of villages" has introduced more than 40 documentaries, covering all aspects of people's lives. Those works of grass-roots students have won high praise in domestic and foreign areas. Some outstanding works such as "Himalayan Vulture" were exhibited in 2010 Shanghai World Expo and other large-scale activities.

"The more life is to be filled with visual symbols without foundation, the more eager people are to be close to nature and communicate with others." said Guo Jing, who firstly proposed to give the camera to villagers in China.

From: China Tibet Online


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