old man

About The Film -- Treatment

TREASURE OF THE LISU: Ah-Cheng and HIS MUSIC will be a 40-45 minutes documentary film. It tells the story of a folk musician in a mountain village in modern day southwest China. As the sole practitioner left in the village who has mastered their ethnic group's traditional string instrument, Ah-Cheng carries a lot more than what his simple daily life looks like on the surface.

As the morning sun expels the river mist, the village by the mountain side swings into motions. Villagers start their day. At one side of the village, one can hear music coming out from a two-story bamboo house built on stilts. Inside, by the dwindling open fire, Ah-Cheng is playing a string instrument. Besides him, his toddler granddaughter plays and listens. Once in a while, her little fingers are eager to touch the strings.

It doesn't take much to hear what the music is about: birds playing, jumping ups and down the the small creeks that flow into the big river--the Nu River, roaring pass the village hillside.

Ah-Cheng taps his foot on the wooden floor. As tradition holds, once the music starts, the dance follows.

But few in the village, even the whole tribe across the region can play and dance to such music anymore. And none possesses the mastery as the elder, who learnt from his grandparents when he was a teenage.

Once in a while, Ah-Cheng looks through the window. His woodworking workshop is on another bamboo platform where he crafts his instruments, Chibong, as well as crossbows and other household items out of timbers he selected from the mountain.

"Our tradition, if I don't try to pass them on, is going to disappear forever. That's why I want young people to like and learn Chiben, Chia-er, youyie ... ".

The Lisu people, as Ah-Cheng and his fellow villagers call themselves, are one of the thirteen ethnic minorities that reside by the Nu (Salween in downstream Burma) River in China's Yunnan province. The harsh yet awe-inspiring environment cultivated their unique artistic instincts and the Lisus are known for their singing and dancing abilities.

Using music as a thread, this story reflects on the value and quality of life and living. Through the daily activities of the village musician, this documentary, observational in its style with first-person reflection, will also provide an intimate portrait of this ethnic community standing at the crossroad of ancient and modern way of life.

© 2008 Waterdrop Films, All rights reserved.