All posts filed under: Film

Uyghur Women & Memetjan Semet’s film “Dad, I Love You”

A few weeks ago when talking to a Uyghur acquaintance he told me: “One the biggest problems among Uyghurs today is the rate of divorce. I think it is as high as 70 percent. Most of it is the fault of women. They have misunderstood what women’s equality is all about. They think that it means that they should be equal to men in every way; or that men should be just like them. They try to control men, stop them from going to bars. They order men to do housework, and then spend all of their money. They don’t understand that that is not their place. If they would be encouraging to men, than men would never cheat on them.” When I mentioned this conversation to the filmmaker Memetjan Semet he said: ““That’s not true. The main reason people get divorced is because of men. Many men don’t understand just how difficult and stressful women’s work can be. They have to take care of the household, cook, clean and take care of their children. …

The Future Of Uyghur Tradition In “Rahime,” A Short Film By Mukaddas Mijit

In the short film Rahime, the Uyghur ethnomusicologist and filmmaker Mukaddas Mijit portrays a moment in the life of her grandmother. When she was coming up with the theme for the short film, Mukaddas was feeling dismayed by the many events happening in the world around her. Since she herself was born in an Islamic culture, she felt it her obligation to frame that world in a way to give voice to the humanity and wisdom of that world. She felt that her 88 year-old grandmother could do this by drawing out the richness of her knowledge of Sufi mysticism. Mukaddas writes: “During my fieldwork on Sufi music in Xinjiang, I had a chance to encounter some extraordinary men and women. They taught me profound values about my culture and history. They are the ones who encouraged me to be open, tolerant and humble (even if it’s very hard and challenging).” It was with this in mind that she decided to put together a short film in which her grandmother communicates some of this call toward openness and …

The Poetic, Timeless Solitude In Tahir Hamut’s “Beautiful Lover”

One of the driving forces in the Uyghur film scene is a filmmaker and poet named Tahir Hamut. A graduate of Beijing’s National Minorities University, Tahir began his academic career as one of the premier Uyghur critics of Western Modernist literature. Throughout the 1990s he, along with Perhat Tursun and others, were the leaders of a Uyghur avant garde poetry movement. Then in 1998 he turned his attention to filmmaking. Now Tahir serves as one of the principle instructors in the Film Department of the Xinjiang Arts Institute in Ürümchi. Tahir’s first films were feature-length fiction films. Although in many ways straightforward romantic dramas, even in this early work we see flashes of ethnographic detail that give us hints of Tahir’s previous life as a poet and the way he was beginning to translate that vision into visual form. Tahir is a brilliant poet. His 1998 poem “Returning to Kashgar” is punctuated by a haunting imagery that tackles both the timelessness of loneliness and disillusionment of youth. It feels both forever contemporary and particular to …

The Edge of the Bazaar, A Documentary About Uyghur Rural Life

One of the emerging trends among young Uyghur film directors is a new attention to documentary filmmaking. This approach has long been a part of Uyghur cinema, but previously it was often part of a larger public relations presentation sponsored by the Chinese Culture Ministry. These new documentary short films are independently produced on limited budgets by young filmmakers who have an intimate knowledge of their subjects. Part of the new emphasis on documentaries is due to the increasing affordability of cameras, lenses, and digital editing software. Another element is the way the expanding Uyghur and Chinese Internet has made forms of international and national documentary – from Werner Herzog and Lucien Castaing-Taylor to Wu Wenguang and the New Chinese Documentary Film Movement – more accessible to film students in Xinjiang. But perhaps an even more important factor is the way students from the rural countryside are seeing more and more of the way-of-life they grew up around vanish before their eyes. It was these elements that prompted the young student filmmakers Abdukadir Upur and Dilmurat Tohti to …