Hundreds of filmmakers have gathered on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for a documentary film festival focused on remote and threatened high-altitude environments and cultures.
The organizers of the 2014 Qinghai World Mountain Documentary Festival, which opened in Golmud, northwest China's Qinghai Province, on Sunday, have received 551 documentaries that they have divided into the categories of anthropology, society and nature for awards consideration. They were all filmed at altitudes above 500 meters in 36 countries and regions, said Sun Jianying, chair of the festival's judging committee.
"In a world of increasing globalization and development, mountain inhabitants are fortunate as physical isolation has made it possible for them to keep their values and traditions; however, their cultures must be salvaged and conserved before it's too late. The documentaries help to preserve the genes of their culture," said Sun.
Chinese production "Village Diary," a nominee for Best Long Documentary in the society category, records the life of several farmers and their families in a remote north China village over the course of a year, reflecting the challenges faced in rural China.
"It's touching but in a very restrained way. Audiences can feel the warmth of the faith and enthusiasm of the main characters, even when they are enduring miserable situations. It's really powerful," said Sun.
Sun has also been impressed by a number of other Chinese entries, though she noted that domestic productions have a long way to go compared to their foreign peers.
"In the anthropology and society group, outstanding documentaries produced in China as well as in Asia have made much progress... yet in the nature group, the number of excellent productions made in China and Asia is still limited, which requires attention and investment," she said.
French director Agnes Moreau believes documentarians have a responsibility to raise awareness of overlooked or misunderstood people -- in this case, mountain dwellers.
"In mountain documentary, you have to show the changes in the mountain areas and fight against people's prejudices. Some say mountain people always stick to old ways, but actually they are very adaptable; they are quick to learn about earthquakes, floods, landslides, and adapt to the situation immediately," she told Xinhua.
Moreau brought her production "A Dark Cloud on Top of the World" to the festival.
She explained, "For me, the meaning of documentary is to fight for truth: scientific truth, sentimental truth and truth about humanity. In my documentary, I explored the pollution on the Himalayas, presenting the scientific truth to my audiences."
The World Mountain Documentary Festival has been held every two years since 2008. This year will see 21 awards given to 19 productions from nine countries, including China, the Republic of Korea, Finland, France, Austria, Israel, Belgium, Brazil and the Czech Republic at a ceremony scheduled for Tuesday night.