Through the Looking Glass
2017 / China / 14 min
“Through the Looking Glass captures the moment of a small festival organised by herdsmen and monks on a pasture in Golok to present films they themselves have made. This small celebration brings together Tibetan villagers, many of whom had to travel long distances on foot or horseback to attend the screenings. While at the festival, I was told by so many villagers how much they loved to see their own lives on the screen, and how they enjoyed it much more than what is on TV or in movie theatres.” (Yi Cui). On the heights of a Tibetan pasture, monks, shepherds and children gather in the evening. A large screen billows in the wind, the centre of attention for all eyes. Having made Of Shadows about a travelling shadow theatre (competed at Cinéma du réel 2016), the filmmaker here captures the nuances of passing day and night. The monks’ habits? Surely, these must be costumes given that everything, down to the tiniest bark of a dog, is decked with an exhilarating bustle. Then a tremor of laughter runs through the audience. By delaying the reverse shot of what everyone is getting ready to watch, Yi Cui brings back the pleasure of the dispositif of cinema’s early days, which still keeps the lightness of its fairground beginnings. (Charlotte Garson)
Production / Print source: Ibidem Films
Yi Cui lives between China where she was born and Canada where she studied cinema, after having worked in the field of ecology. She has directed several experimental short films, as well as the feature film Of Shadows which received the Library Award at Cinéma du réel in 2016.