© Antony Gormley's Waste Man commissioned by Artangel for Penny Woolcock's feature film Exodus
Director: Yang Gangcai, Yang Yi (China)
Run time: 140'
Location/Ethnic group: Madang Akha, Yunnan Province
Language: Akha with English subtitles
In total, the Akha number almost 500,000 people and live on both sides of the border between the province of Yunnan and Myanmar, with smaller communities in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Their territory lies within the so-called 'Golden Triangle', notorious for the opium trade. In Yunnan, the Akha number 130,000 and are officially classed as belonging to the Hani nationality. Famous for their elaborate traditional dress, their way of life is based on slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture.
This film concerns a small group of Akha who in 1996 relocated to the village of Mandang to escape disease and the bad luck brought on by inauspicious birth of twins. Here they lived in complete isolation until 2001 when a border patrol road was built. Shot over three years, 2001-2004, this film shows the radical transformation that followed, as traditional houses were demolished and electricity was installed. The villagers' self-mockery and humour gives rise to much tension and agitation in the film. A new era begins for the village, and the old one will never return.
Please note: the full running time of the film is 140 minutes, but due to time constraints, only an extract of the film will be shown.
Yang Gancai (born 1956) and Wang Yi (born 1964) are a married couple. By profession both are freelance journalists deeply committed to chronicling the 'disappearing worlds' of Chinese ethnic minorities. To make this film, they lived for four years amongst the Madang Akha and shot over 100 hours of rushes.