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   |   Review    |   What the Critics Say    |   The Kekexili Reserve & the Tibetan Antelope    |    
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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • Director Lu Chuan, China, 2004.
  • U.S. Release April, 2006.
  • 35mm, TRT 90 min.
  • In Tibetan & Mandarin with English subtitles.
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Foreign.
  • Discussion after the film at Andy's Mediterranean Grill.
  • This film is NR (Not Rated) but contains violence. Parental guidance recommended.

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday, September 25, 2007

  • Wednesday, September 26, 2007

  • Doors open 6:30 pm, film starts at 7:00 pm

    W H E R E :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
    953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park/Mt. Adams.
  • Easy Access, Free Parking
    click for Directions & Map

  • T I C K E T S :

  • Cincinnati Art Museum,
  • Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for Art Museum members and students with valid ID.

    $7 tickets are ONLY available online, by phone, at the Museum, and at the door subject to availability.



  • tollfree 1-877-548-3237

  • at the Art Museum

  • ...and at these locations
    ($9 tix only, cash only),
    click each location below for a map:

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
    Sitwell's Coffee House
    513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
    Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

    513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
    Shake It Music & Video
    513 591 0123

  • Covington-Main Strasse -
    The Bean Haus
    859 431 2326

  • Tickets will also be available at the door, subject to availability.

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    Major Festival Awards
    & Nominations

    Golden Horse Awards
    (Chinese language Oscars)
    Taipei, Taiwan:

       Winner, Best Picture
       Winner, Best Cinematography
       Nominated, Best Director
       Nominated, Best Actor
       Nominated, Best Screenplay

    Berlin International Film Festival
    Berlin, Germany:

       Winner, Best Director (Don Quixote Award)

    Hong Kong Film Awards
    Hong Kong:

       Winner, Best Asian Film

    Huabiao Film Awards
    (Mainland China National Awards)
    Beijing, China:

       Winner, Outstanding Film
       Winner, Outstanding Director

    Golden Rooster Awards, China Film Association
    Beijing, China:

       Winner, Best Film

    Tokyo International Film Festival
    Tokyo, Japan:

       Winner, Special Jury Prize - Outstanding Director
       Nominated, Best Film

    Sundance Film Festival
    Park City, Utah, USA:

       Nominated, Grand Jury Prize -
       World Cinema - Dramatic

    Post-Film Discussion

    The post-film discussion will be informal and held at Andy's Mediterranean Grill, on Nassau Street near Gilbert Avenue. Join us for conversation and socializing, the beverage of your choice and Lebanese Pizza, baba ghannouj, labneh, falafel, etc., as the spirit moves you!  Map and Menu --
    www.andyskabob.com, 513.281.9791.

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    Info Links

    <~>About the KEKEXILI region and the Tibetan Antelope
    Fashion Statement Spells Death for Tibetan Antelope
    Shahtoosh: the lethal cost of luxury
    Campaigns to end Trade in Shahtoosh
    Kashmir and Jammu ban manufacture of Shahtoosh
    Kekexili - enorth.com - English
    Kekexili - enorth.com - Chinese
    Protected Areas in the Tibetan Plateau

    <~>About Tibet, the T.A.R. and China
    About the Tibetan Plateau region
    About the Kekexili region
    About the Tibet Autonomous Region (T.A.R.)
    Tibet historical/political timeline
    National Parks in/adjoining Tibet (Kekexili is marked as #79)
    China map with Tibetan plateau
    Map of qinghai province

    Cincinnati World Cinema :: Kekexili

    In the vastness of the Himalayas,
    the Tibetan people lead quiet lives, in harmony with nature.

    But what was once a peaceful land is no more.

    This is the story inspired by one people's remarkable mission ...

    For the love of their land, for the freedom
    of their souls, for the future of their world ...

    Risking their lives, the men of the villages unite
    to save the Tibetan Antelope from certain extinction
    at the hands of heavily armed poachers.

    National Geographic   WVXU Film Review ~ Mountain Patrol: Kekexili:
    Listen to the review.            Read the review.

    Watch the Trailer

    About Kekexili

    BASED ON A TRUE STORY, Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is the extraordinary saga of one community's courage, determination and sacrifice, filmed in one of the world's most forbiddingly beautiful places in the high-mountain plains of the Tibetan Plateau. Remote and desolate, the Kekexili region is immense (the size of Indiana or Maine), covering 32,000 square miles at an elevation 3 miles above sea level (higher than the peak of Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington). A joint presentation of National Geographic Films, Columbia Pictures, and Samuel Goldwyn Films, this is a hauntingly powerful film that needs to be seen on a big screen.

    KEKEXILI CAN BE TAKEN at face value, easily appreciated as an action drama that has the plot construction of a classic thriller -- building tension and suspense to reach an unexpected ending. Director Chuan Lu's film is refreshing in its honesty and credibility, with a documentary feel enhanced by the use of amateur Tibetan actors in most of the roles. The ensemble cast approach works well with Chuan's use of traditional Chinese narrative filmmaking, with no predominant star relatively balanced roles.

    CINEMATICALLY, THE FILM offers the visual impact seen in the best classic American westerns, with sweeping panoramic shots of a stark, expansive and incredibly beautiful wilderness -- in the style of masters John Ford and Sergio Leone. Yet, while cinematographer Cao Yu captures the primal landscape in stunning, elegantly composed imagery, the awesome visuals never overwhelm the compelling narrative, which unfolds with an unsparing realism, thankfully absent a clichéd, predictable ending. Although breathtaking to watch, KEKEXILI is just as impressive for the moral complexity and subtlety of its narrative.

    ONE FILM HISTORIAN has noted that KEKEXILI is one of just a few films made in mainland China that have been permitted into competition at the Golden Horse awards (Chinese language version of the U.S. Oscars) in Taiwan. Indeed, it is only one of two films from the Chinese mainland to win Taiwan's Golden Horse for Best Picture.

    LOOKING UNDER THE TOUGH exterior skin of this story, we see that this is no simplistic, black-and-white tale of heroic volunteers chasing the evil poachers, but a saga rendered in shades of gray. What the poachers do is morally reprehensible, yet sadly understandable, given that many are poor, have been forced off their land and would starve to death otherwise. At the same time, the Mountain Patrol is forced to make some morally compromised choices to protect the Chiru, the Tibetan Antelope.

    BASED ON THE TENSION and circumstances surrounding China's control of Tibet, those who follow world politics and current events will find it interesting to note the participation of the Chinese press in reporting the original true story, as well as the ultimate action of the Chinese government in setting up the Kekexili preserve to protect the Tibetan antelope, the yak, wild donkey and other native plateau animals.

    ALTHOUGH THE TRAFFIC in endangered wildlife gives the film a headline hook, the story that unfolds has as much to do with man's inhumanity to man as to his fellow creatures. As a result of the National Geographic Society's long-standing commitment in support of research and preserveration in Tibet, this moving, fact-based story offers an important message -- about our environment and its wildlife -- delivered in a way that touches your heart and mind without being in your face. Equally important is the parallel message about honor and a sense of obligation to one's culture and habitat.

    "Trading tiger bones for antelope wool" ~ Director Chuan Lu's comments on filming and working with patrol members and with poachers; the illegal shatoosh trade, and more.

    The Kekexili Reserve and the Tibetan Antelope

    GEOGRAPHIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL PERSPECTIVE: The Tibetan Plateau is the third least-populated region in the world and covers roughly one million square miles - roughly 4 times the size of France or Texas. The Kekexili region within this area covers 32,000 square miles, roughly equal to the size of Indiana or Maine. The portion of the Kekexili addressed in the film (which subsequently became a protected reserve) is about 17,000 square miles, roughly equal to the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

    Despite its harsh, cold climate, characterized by snow storms, hail storms and sand storms, the Kekexili (also known as Hoh Xil) is home to more than 230 species of wild animals, 20 of which are now under state protection, including the wild yak, wild donkey, white-lip deer, brown bear and the endangered Tibetan antelope.

    Click here to read
          about the Tibetan Antelope and the illegal Shahtoosh trade UNTIL THE MID-1980S, an estimated one million Tibetan antelope, called chiru, roamed Kekexili on the Qinghai portion of the Tibetan Plateau, known throughout the region as "the roof of the world." Less than a decade later, the chiru numbers had dwindled to less than 50,000, due to rampant poaching (animal lovers be warned: the poaching footage in the film is brief but graphic). Unlike sheep, the Tibetan Antelope's wool cannot be had by shearing. It is the undercoat that is highly prized, called shatoosh, and the animal must be skinned to obtain the pelt. Using machine guns, poachers would strafe whole herds of chiru for their wool, destined for use in the illegal but highly lucrative shatoosh scarf market.     Click on the graphic for more info >>>

    OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, worldwide trade in shahtoosh has rocketed by 50% and shahtoosh shawls have become a fashion 'must-have' among wealthy westerners, particularly in the UK, USA, France, Italy, Japan and Russia. The international fashion industry has been guilty of endorsing this trade largely due to ignorance of the facts (and greed). The rarity and quality of shahtoosh means that prices are high and depending on size, a shawl bought under-the-counter in the West can cost between $1,000-$2,500 and larger ones can bring $5,000 or more. In peak years, Authorities estimated that 50,000 Tibetan Antelopes were killed annually for their wool, which produce, on average, 20,000 shahtoosh scarves or shawls. At a conservative average price of $1,500, this quantity represents $30 Million in annual sales for the retail end.

    WHILE MANY WORLD GOVERNMENTS and the fashion industry have become more educated on the subject and have since pronounced bans on possession and sale of shatoosh, the poaching continues thanks to high demand from the black market. The Chinese government has experienced some success in policing the Kekexili reserve and the chiru has rebounded a bit, to around 50,000.

    AS A CO-PRESENTER OF MOUNTAIN PATROL: KEKEXILI, and in the spirit of the emotional story the film conveys, the National Geographic has launched the Tibet Conservation Fund. This effort will support multi-disciplinary projects and educational programs that help scientists, explorers, local residents, and governments work together to preserve Tibet's wildlife and habitat.

    National Geographic
    Learn more by clicking on the graphic above.



    Mountain Patrol Review
    by James Mudge, BeyondHollywood.com

    "Mountain Patrol" is ultimately a rewarding experience, and goes beyond its initial emotive premise to explore the very nature of human existence in this cruel, cold world.

    "Easily one of the best films of the last few years, "Mountain Patrol" deserves a global audience, and indeed recognition, as a vital, outstanding piece of cinema."

    Snippets from the Mudge review.

    "Chuan Lu's "Mountain Patrol" is truly extraordinary in many ways, not least in the incredible real-life hardships endured by the cast and crew during the filmmaking process.

    "The final result is a stunning, beautiful, moving and realistic film which chronicles, in an almost documentary-like fashion, the incredible story...

    "Although emotional, the film is unflinching, treating the complexities of the situation with due respect, and never falling into the trap of cheap sentimentalism or flag waving environmentalism.

    "Chuan's direction, perfectly accompanied by Yu's stunning cinematography, is wonderful, and he makes full use of the breathtaking scenery without ever exploiting it for mere eye candy. The wilderness becomes an uncaring, deadly character, and plays a vital role, not only as an obstacle, but also as a source of inspiration and spirituality for both the volunteers and the poachers.

    "The film as a whole is honest and uncompromising... Although Chan never overtly tries to explain the motivations or the emotions driving the characters, their passions and belief are revealed tellingly through their actions and the extraordinary lengths they are willing to go. Their efforts are truly inspiring and give the film a real heart as it meditates in fascinating fashion about the meanings of life and hope.

    "In addition to such worthiness and earnest contemplation, "Mountain Patrol" is a genuinely exciting and harrowing experience. Running for an all too brief ninety minutes (apparently cut down from nearly three hours), Chan keeps things tight and fast paced, and though he does occasionally wander off into anecdotes, these sit quite comfortably with the documentary style approach. There is a fair amount of action, with some very grueling survival sequences that easily carry more drama and impact than any of their Hollywood counterparts. Along with its plain-faced honesty, the film never falls into elitist art house pretension, and should in no way fail to appeal to the average viewer."

    Read the full review here...
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    What the Critics Say

    ROTTEN TOMATOES -- 98% fresh

    "4/4 STARS engrossing... one of the movie discoveries of the year... grips like an Asian version of The FrenchConnecton... bold, exciting and truly adventurous"

    "4/4 STARS An astonishing achievement - one that calmly and quietly blows most Hollywood inventions out of the water"

    "Best Film of the London Film Festival - a sober, gripping action drama…achieves emotional impact through affecting individual performance and vividly applied ethical dilemmas. The locations are stunning and the local colour, from air burials to quicksand, vivid." 4/4 STARS

    "brutally beautiful... the landscapes alone are worth the price of admission... a one-of-a-kind action flick: a tale of triumph tinged at every moment with tragedy."
    David Ansen, NEWSWEEK

    "Mountain Patrol is breathtakingly beautiful, breathtakingly brutal and simply breathtaking."

    "A gorgeous, engrossing epic reminiscent of Kurosawa."
    John Hartl, SEATTLE TIMES

    "A blood boiling environmental thriller with a dash of Sergio Leone... this is the kind of film that invites you in with beauty, only to surprise and even shock you with a sudden burst of violence... a work of creative imagination… it draws you in again and again."

    "4/4 STARS One of the very best films of the London Film Festival, Mountain Patrol: Kekexili defies expectations in the most thrilling way... Spectacularly shot, and acted with understated conviction. Mountain Patrol is a rarity: thrilling action drama with a message."

    "5/5 STARS awesome... Reality and art merge in the mirage of memorable moviemaking."
    Nigel Andrews, FINANCIAL TIMES

    "compelling... awesome... unforgettable... a work of art"
    Philip French THE OBSERVER

    "4/4 STARS An astonishing film... to be cherished... Tremendously impressive" No. 1 CRITICS' CHOICE
    Derek Malcolm, EVENING STANDARD

    "terrific... majestically beautiful, begs to be seen on the big screen"

    "4/4 STARS there will be few more powerful films made this year"

    "Stunning... Tense, moving and sometimes disturbing, Mountain Patrol is that rare thing: a window on an utterly foreign world."

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    Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan's spellbinding film transports you to Kekexili, on the Tibetan Plateau, where a volunteer band of Tibetans risk life and limb to protect the endangered Tibetan antelope from poachers. At the time Chuan's film takes place, circa 1996, the Tibetan volunteer patrols and the poachers had been locked in a deadly battle for years.

    There are many quietly moving scenes throughout Kekexili that give us an acute sense of the emotional, physical, and psychological price these mountain patrol volunteers pay, for little in return. Little in terms of money or material benefit. But — and this is a key thrust of the film — the volunteers instead forge a sacred, intimate bond with the land and with nature as their reward. For all the deprivation and hardship they endure, these men seemingly take joy in their work. Light-hearted moments are infrequent in the film, but they give us an idea of why these volunteers leave home and family, uncertain if they'll return, to patrol this rugged terrain and protect the Tibetan antelope.

    Following the execution-style murder of a Tibetan volunteer, Beijing photojournalist Ga Yu (Zhang Lei) comes to Qinghai to write about the Mountain Patrol. He arrives in time to witness Tibetan funeral rites with Patrol members mourning the death of one of their members.

    By offering to help make the public aware of the plight of the antelope and the work of the patrols, Ga Yu persuades patrol leader Ri Tai (Duobuji) to let him accompany the patrol in their search of the killer. Thus begins the patrol's extraordinary odyssey into the vast reaches of Kekexili, where their hunt for poachers gradually turns into a fight for survival under the most inhumane conditions imaginable.

    The story that unfolds is told through the eyes of the photojournalist Ga Yu, and takes place over several days. The patrolmen gather for an evening of food, song and brotherhood before mounting a search for the killers of their comrade. The next morning the men load up their supplies and weapons and depart for the mountains. Ga Yu witnesses the heartfelt and tearful good-byes of the family members and begins to wonder what is in store for them, seeing a mixture of fear and sorrow in their relatives' eyes as they depart.

    The patrol crosses the stark but beautiful landscape that seems to stretch for miles without end - barren tundra like the surface of the moon framed by majestic peaks. They stop a truck to check its cargo, and Ga Yu learns that the Mountain Patrolmen only have the authority to stop, confiscate and fine, but not to make arrests. They drive on to meet up with another border patrol team at the base camp and although there is sadness about the recent death of a member, Ga Yu is struck by the natural joy for life that the patrolman have. His many photographs capture the exuberance of their dancing and singing.

    As the patrol pushes on the next day they find a field with hundreds of antelope carcasses near a lake, some still being picked apart by vultures. Although seasoned by their experience in combating the poachers, the patrol members can only stand in stunned silence as they survey the carnage. They find two men still at the lake and force them to help bury the remains. Ri Tai informs Ga Yu that the patrolmen bury 10,000 antelope a year. A prayer is said as they burn the remains with the same respect shown to one of their own.

    Driving across the rough terrain in pursuit of the poachers, a gunshot is fired and one of the patrol trucks swerves off the road. The driver is dead and Ga Yu is suddenly face-to-face with the dangerous reality of their situation. Ri Tai vows to track down the killers and in the harrowing experiences that follow, the patrol must combat the poachers as well as the extremes of their environment.

    At first an observer, distanced by the lens of his camera, Ga Yu slowly becomes personally involved in the struggle. He gradually becomes aware that this is not just a regular patrol, but rather a journey about life. To the patrol members, Kekexili is their homeland as well as that of the Tibetan antelopes. In the transmigration of life, they will always guard their homeland… Through the eyes of patrol leader Ri Tai and the other patrolmen, Ga Yu witnesses the real beauty of life: faith.

    The pace of the action intensifies, introducing several unexpected developments. Offering further description in this synopsis will reveal the ending - and spoil a thriller definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

    But it is safe to share that in the end, Ga Yu returns to Beijing a very different man than when he left, and writes the story of the bravery and faith of the Kekexili Mountain Patrolmen. Matching the real life outcome, Ga Yu's story shocks the nation and the Chinese government belatedly takes action to create and staff a perserve at Kekexili. This is the legacy he bequeaths to Ri Tai and the patrolmen and his gift to the future survival of the Tibetan Antelope.

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    Cast & Crew

    Chuan Lu - Director/Writer
    1998-present Director of the Creative Center, China Film Group
    1998 Masters degree in Film Studies, Dept. of Directing, Beijing Film Academy
    1993 Bachelor degree in English Language, People's Liberation Army International Affairs

    Selected Works
    2003 Writer/Director, "Kekexili" 2001 Writer/Director, "The Missing Gun" 1999 Writer, TV series "Black Hole" Awards for "The Missing Gun"
    2002 Selected by Venice Film Festival "Up Stream" unit 2002 Best Film Debut at Beijing University Film Festival 2002 Best Film of Young Artist Category, "News Weekly" Annual Awards 2002 Global Ten Best Films/Director of the Year, "STV Weekly" 2002 Best Film/Best Director/Best Debut/Best Actor, Chinese Film Media Awards 2000 Best Script, Taiwan Script Award

    Cao Yu -Director of Photography
    Cao Yu graduated from the Department of Film Photography at the Beijing Film Academy in 1997 and is now based at the Beijing Film Studios. Prior to shooting "Kekexili", he won the Young Artist Fund of the 54th Cannes Film Festival in 1997 for his graduation work "Waiting to Dodge." He was the DP of the film "Flying like a Feather," which won the Locarno International Film Festival Committee Special Award in 2001.

    His commercial advertising work includes: "A Crucial Moment" for China Telecom; Motorola C388-C289 mobiles; Siemens Mini8088 mobiles, which won Best Photography Award in NY Advertisement Festival; "Team China" for Pepsi. "World Cup" for Coca-Cola; "Children's Friend" for McDonalds; and "Xrisp" for Nestle ice cream.

    Lu Dong and Han Chunlin - Production Designers
    Lu Dong graduated from the Department of Stage Design at the Shanghai Academy of Drama in 1997. His previous work includes: "Kala, My Dog!" (2002); "Eyes of a Beauty" (2002); "The Missing Gun" (2001) and TV series "Black Hole" (2001).

    Han Chunlin studied at the Middle School attached to the China Institute of Arts from 1988-1992. He graduated from the Department of Stage Design, the Central Academy of Drama in 2002. His work was then selected by the Bragg Stage Design Exhibition. "Kekexili" is his first feature film.


    Duo Bujie -as Ri Tai
    Duo Bujie graduated from Department of Acting at the Shanghai Academy of Drama in 1981. He is currently a member of the Tibet National Theatre, the China Drama Arts Committee and the China Film and TV Art Committees. His major roles include: "SongZanGanBu;" "Once upon a time in Lhasa," "A Tibet Story;" "Princess Wen Chen;" and "When Dust Settles." In 2002 he starred as Luo Sang Dan Zeng' in the TV series "The GeSang Flowers" for which he won the "Best Actor" Award at the Golden Horse Awards. In 1997, he starred as "chieftain" in the film "Red Valley," and won "Best Supporting Actor" at the 17th China Golden Rooster Awards (China's most famous film honors).

    In 1995, he appeared as "Gong Bu" in the TV series "Snow Shock," and won "Best Supporting Actor" at the 15th Flying Fairy Awards (China's most famous TV awards). In 1994, as the "Sixth Dalai Lama" in the play "A Story of Potala Palace," he won the "Best Acting Award" at the Nine Dragon Awards in addition to the "Art Achievement Award" from the Tibetan Government. In 1991, he won the 2nd Golden Lion Award for his theatre acting.

    Zhang Lei - as Ga Yu
    Zhang Lei was born in Wulumuqi, XinJiang Province of China, December 1972. He graduated from the Department of Stage Design, the Central Academy of Drama in 1999 and started to work for the National Theatre Company of China. Zhang is an independent theatre drama producer as well. He produced several of Shakespeare's plays. "Kekexili" was his feature film debut.

    Qi Liang as Liu Dong
    Qi Liang, 28 years old, graduated from Department of Acting, the Central Academy of Drama in 2001. He is now a member of the acting company at the Beijing People's Art Theatre. He starred as "Lu Gui" in the Chinese famous theatre play "Thunderstorm" and "Wu Chang" (name of a Chinese ghost) in the play "The Story of Two Ghosts." "Kekexili" was his film debut.

    Zhao Xueying as Leng Xue Zhao Xueying graduated from the Department of Acting, the Beijing Film Academy in 2000. "Kekexili" was her feature film debut.

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