To Sing With the Ancestors

简体中文China2008 / 100min / HD
Director:Li Xiaojiang

Ge Bu is a poet who came from the tribe of colorful clothes in the mountainous area. He stayed and taught there after graduated from middle school, and has since worked in various governmental positions. All along the way, he moved farther and farther away from the mountainous area, and the loneliness piled up in his mind just seems deeper and deeper, especially whenever he recites the tribal epics passed down from mouth to mouth. In 2007, the government transferred Ge Bu to his hometown and want him to convince the tribe to build a road connecting to the outside world for more interaction. 

A-Ying, a singer, went blind at 18, when his eyes ached for 3 days. Being left with pure darkness and loneliness, A-Ying picked up his father’s sanxian and self-learned to play the instrument of his ancestors, relying solely on his feelings and sensations. Since then, the sanxian is everywhere in his songs and music.

Beima Nuo Fu is a wizard of the village and carries on the ancient culture of his tribe. One of the epics that he often recites summarizes the farming skills of his ancestors in the terraced fields. Nuo Fu wants to build a new house in the near future, but he hasn’t got enough money. Ge Bu and Nuo Fu are brothers, and when Ge Bu tries to raise fund for his hometown from those governmental departments, it came to Ge Bu that he should ask Nuo Fu about the epic he has been contemplating. On the other hand, A Ying, being Ge Bu’s friend, promised to sing at Ge Bu's wedding and his long journey.


Ge Bu finished his epic and found a publisher wanting to publish it. But Ge Bu is not convinced and decides to hold a seminar about his epic. He invited the wizards to share their opinions, and received lots of valuable input, especially from Nuo Fu who is also a wizard.


After several years of traveling, A-Ying is introduced to his second wife, whose husband passed away not long ago. With the relatives behind, they got married and at the same time, A-Ying is still Ge Bu's inspiration of songs, as it has always been. Soon after the completion of his epic, Ge Bu’s son was born. With the soybeans harvested, Nuo Fu decides to find work in the cities, in order to realize his dream of his new house. 


Ge Bu came back to the hometown, Nuo Fu decided to leave, and A-Ying still sings with his Sanxian in the village. Nonetheless, the songs stayed in their mind calls their ancestors from the ancient time.


Director: LI Xiao-jiang

LI Xiao-jiang received both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from the Department of Directing in BeijingFilmAcademy. He is now a director at the Beijing Science & Education Film Studio, and has made many fictional and documentary films, including “A Shanghai Woman – Yang Cuizhen”, “The Way they Smile”, “Go to the Cities”, “Their Village”, “Up Country, Down Town”, “Song of the Rice”, “Story of the Market”, “Nine Days in April” and “Hezhe Village”.


From the Director

Heidegger depicted the ultimate goal of human beings “Human beings live on the land romantically.” However, in reality, the more we pursue this goal, the further away it is to us. We are now in the most resourceful time in human history, but we are also more confused about what happiness is. The camera cast upon an ethnic group in a remote land is not to just satisfy our curiosity but to find a way of life that has been long forgotten. It does not really matter what the author thinks about the poverty and backwardness accompanying the romantic life of the Hani people. What matters is the most powerful thing within the harmony of the group and the painful struggle inside Ge Bu.

We follow the life of a wizard, a blind singer and a poet, and try to see what is going on in their mind and feel what they feel. At the same time, we also want to travel through time, following the traces of the ancestors of this tribe, to come to the top of the mountains and the terraced fields, listening to the songs from the ancient times and stroke gently on their vulnerable dreams.



Film Festival

※The 27th Festival International Du Film D’environnement, 2009

※The 7th GZ Doc, screening, 2009

※The 5th REEL CHINA Documentary Biennial, 2010

※World Mountain Documentary Festival of Qinghai ChinaJade Kunlun Awards, 2010

※The 11th Sichuan TV Festival, 2011

※Guangxi International Ethnographic Film Festival, 2014