Movies bring more enjoyment to ethnic groups in Tibet
By You Yu
17 May 2006 (China Radio International (CRI) ) — In the past, it was quite difficult for Tibetans, especially herdsmen living in remote mountainous areas, to see films. But thanks to efforts made by the government, now almost all Tibetans can see at least one film each month.
The clip was from the film "Purple Sun", translated into the Tibetan language. Over 300 Tibetan herdsmen are now enjoying it in the village of Bailang, north of Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
In most Chinese cities, going to see a movie at cinemas is not regarded as a big deal. However, this has not been the case for Tibetans.
In order to let Tibetans, especially herdsmen, see films regularly, the Chinese government launched a project in the late 1990s aimed at enriching leisure life in the region. The theme of the project is to make it possible for every village in China to have access to one film a month by the beginning of the 21st century. And, of course, herdsmen living in the pastures of the Tibet Autonomous Region were among the targeted groups.
The project started in the Tibet Autonomous Region eight years ago. About 22 million yuan, or about 2.75 million U.S. dollars, have been invested by the Chinese government. The investment is to provide 73 counties of Tibet with 80 mobile film-playing vehicles and over 300 sets of fequipment. In the past, film projectors in Tibet were quite out-dated with some so bad they could no longer be used.
Though hardware conditions have greatly improved, fewer films had been translated into the Tibetan language. And Tibetan herdsmen can't understand films unless they are spoken in the local language.
So, after investing money to upgrade projectors, local film companies have taken up the task of translating more good films for Tibetans to see. The manager of the Film Company of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Phagba Chozin, says more translators have been employed to translate films that local people might like.
"In order to guarantee that we have enough films to show to the public, we have employed more staff in our translation department. More translators and dub actors have worked to ensure that there is good quality and quantity of translated films. In addition, we found that herdsmen like to see science and educational films. So we translated a large amount of those films so herdsmen can obtain knowledge about farming and poultry feeding techniques."
Phagba Chozin says they have translated thousands of films, including both science and educational films and motion pictures.
After the translation work, film operators are needed to travel to every village to show the films to the public since Tibetan herdsmen are scattered in remote areas. And it is impossible for them to travel several days to the nearest big city or town to see a film.
It is a very tedious job to shift film operators to small, remote villages. Tibet is vast and stretches over snow-capped mountains. Sometimes, it even takes days to shift a film operator by car to a village.
Nyima Tsering is head of a film playing station in Dagze county of Lhasa. He says transporting film playing equipment is also a big headache.
"Many villages in our county are very remote. We often bring mobile film-playing vehicles to villages. Sometimes there is no road to walk on and we have to use yaks or horses to carry our equipment. We are very glad that new films can be sent to herdsmen's villages. Every village that we pass, we play two films. One is a science and educational film, and the other is a motion picture."
Almost 500 film playing stations have been established all over Tibet, with every county of Tibet now having a film playing station of its own. And at every station, operators are recruited and trained to qualify them for showing films.
Thanks to the efforts made by dedicated workers, films are shown in 98 percent of the villages in Tibet. 69 counties out of 73 can now see at least one film per a month.
For sure, films are enriching the monotonous life of Tibetan herdsmen living in the plateau. Since herdsmen have scattered around, whenever a film is played in one village, herdsmen from outside will come to see it. Some of them may ride horses, some travel on foot and some rich people even ride motorcycles. It is really a spectacular scene.
Nyima Tsering says he can't remember how many villages he has visited and how many films he has shown over the years. What he still remembers, though, are the big smiles on the faces of local herdsmen. After a film ends, herdsmen often won't let him go and beg him to play just one more. Zholma is one of the enthusiastic herdsmen.
"Now I can see a film every month. I get to see many new things that I could have never imagined. I like to see science and educational films very much. I like films on how to use greenhouses and farming equipment; how to feed chickens or ducks and how to make dairy cows more productive. I am very interested in the films, because they make it very easy to obtain knowledge, with pictures and sounds."
Zholma says that by seeing films she has learned how to use a greenhouse to plant vegetables. During the winter, she's felt quite satisfied seeing her greenhouse flourish with different kinds of vegetables. Some are for family consumption, while the rest sold in Lhasa where she has made quite a lot of money out of it.
The science and educational films in the Tibetan languages are mainly closely related to the daily lives of Tibetans, and they have already become an indispensable channel for them to learn about new technologies in the outside world.
Besides herdsmen, monks in the temples of Tibet have also benefited a lot from the films. In temples with over 30 monks, film operators bring films to make their leisure life more interesting.
Manager of the Film Company of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Phagba Chozin, once again points out the significance of the project which has a theme of one movie per month for Tibetans.
"By far, almost all counties' herdsmen can now see one film a month. In the future, we will translate and introduce more films. In addition, we will also make great efforts to train more film operators and improve film playing facilities so that more and more herdsmen can have access to good films."
And by seeing films, herdsmen's old conceptions have gradually changed. Their knowledge of technology has increased and their lives have improved.China Radio International (CRI) is one of the three central media organisations owned and operated by the government of People's Republic of China. China National Radio (CNR) and China Central Television (CCTV) are the other two organisations.