Thursday 4 March, 02:00 – 06:00 pm, Baicheng Movie Theatre

Conference participants are invited to attend a cinema screening of four films that portray the search for positive mountain futures. Each of the films look at the different conflicts and opportunities presented when local and indigenous montane communities must negotiate the increasing pressures of modern life while safeguarding their rights, traditions and environments. The screenings will be followed by discussions where conference participants will have the opportunity to talk with some of the people closely involved in the making of the films, including representatives of the local communities featured in the films, filmmakers and producers. Session moderators will help to facilitate debates prompted by the films, and to provide a space for the exchange of experiences and ideas between community representatives, researchers and policymakers.

Wrap up: Erin Gleeson (MRI assessment)

Yak Dung

Commenter/Moderator: Mats Eriksson (SIWI) and Bing Lu (Through Their Eyes)

The lives of the Tibetans portrayed in this film provide a stark contrast with the profligate lifestyles of developed countries. The traditional herding lifestyle creates no emissions and no waste; watching this film prompts viewers to imagine what their lives would be like if they relied solely on renewable resources. With temperatures falling as low as -40º C on the plateau, cow dung is a valuable source for Tibetan herdsmen. As a renewable energy source, it is used to produce many basic goods and services. This ethnographic film details the integral importance of the yak in Tibetan livelihoods, and raises questions of how can we learn from and conserve traditional ways of life that exist in harmony with their environment. It demonstrates how these rural communities find uses for all parts of the yak, including dung, in the resource-scarce environment of the Tibetan Plateau. The use of yak dung has become deeply embedded in these herdsmen’s culture, art, religion, sense of identity and symbiotic relationship with nature. But because of industrialization, urbanization, growing materialism and climate change, the herds of yaks that once characterized Tibetan life are disappearing. Without the yak, this way of life will fade away as one of the earliest cultures of China, unable to be revived: “When this time comes, our compassion, benevolence and sense of karma will also be doomed.” The film’s director, Lance, will be in attendance for the screening; He is a member of the Nyanpo Yuzee Environmental Protection Association.

Standing on Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and tourists

Commenter/Moderator: Zhaoli Yan (Chengdu Institute of Biology) and Danil Mamyev (Filmmaker)

This documentary follows indigenous resistance to massive government projects that threaten the fragile balance of nature and culture. In the Russian Republic of Altai, native people create and patrol their own mountain parks. This means attempting to rein in tourism and facing down plans to run a Gazprom pipeline through a UNESCO World Heritage Site from Russia to China. The Altaian leader Daniel Mamyev plays a central part in the film, and will attend the screening and discussion. The film is the first in Toby McLeod and Jessica Abbe’s four-part “Standing on Sacred Ground” series, which examines a growing global indigenous movement for human rights and environmental protection, and aims to provide a way for traditional cultures to share wisdom with a wider world that is hungry for meaning and pathways to sustainable living.

Searching for Sacred Mountain

Commenter/Moderator: Gongbu Tashi (Plateau Perspectives Canada) and Lihong Shi (Filmmaker)

Searching for Sacred Mountain details one man’s journey to reconcile the pain and suffering caused by environmental destruction through spiritual conversion to Tibetan Buddhism. His story illustrates the integrated relationship between nature, spirituality and livelihood taught in Tibetan Buddhism. Today, core societal values passed down from earlier generations have been replaced by urbanization, industrialization and materialism, and have created an unstoppable momentum perpetuating environmental degradation. This film offers an alternative: by reviving the Chinese religions of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, the intrinsic individual protection of nature found in ancient Chinese society can be restored, thus paving the way for future sustainable prosperity. By understanding these teachings in a modern context, China can achieve progress without environmental destruction and without abandoning the historical and cultural roots of the middle kingdom that have preserved the environment for thousands of years. Filmmaker Lihong Shi will attend the screening and discussion.