Ethnographic Cinema of Tian Zhuangzhuang
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The aurhoress writes about Tian's film 'Horse thief' (1986), which usually is discussed within the context of the Fifth Generation. The film is characterized as an artistic, avant-garde work, although in fact above all it forms part of ethnographic cinema, or - to use the Chinese terminology - it belongs to the minority genre. She argues that within new films belonging to this genre, and 'Horse Thief' is such a film, there is a great deal of interest shown in traditional social structures and values of the minorities. The makers of these films are both respectful and admiring of ethnic minority cultures, and leave the ideology of class struggle far behind. However, the authoress argues that Tian's ethnographic films (such as 'Horse Thief' and 'On the Hunting Ground' (1984) are different from other representatives of the minority genre, and points to the features that make these films closer to documentaries (for example weak story line, or style close to cinéma vérité). She argues that 'Horse Thief' has to be recognized as a meditation on life and death, custom, beliefs and values of small Tibetan community. At the same time it is a film, which strongly stresses the otherness of the people, and thus in a way excluding the viewers from the spectacle. The film does not tame the Otherness, rather it serves it raw.
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