Across the cold, deserted plateau of Tibet known as Kekexili, a rare breed of antelopes known as the chinu lived and thrived … until poachers arrived in the 1980s and began hunting them en masse. Soon, the chinu were endangered, and attempts to outlaw the hunting failed, as their pelts fetched a handsome price in the black market.
Based upon actual events, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol chronicles the travails of a ragtag group of Tibetan mountain patrols that volunteered to stop the illegal poaching. In 1993, a Beijing photojournalist was assigned to follow one such band, and his subsequent account caused a sensation throughout China, eventually leading to the government declaring the whole area a protected zone. His tale became the story depicted in the film.
Winner of the Golden Horse for Best Picture and the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo Film Festival, this moving yet harrowing motion picture is the most progressive portrayal of Tibetans yet from China. Stoic and dignified yet not without their flaws, these men (acted by non-professionals) are as empathetic as they are benevolent in their cause. Amid stunning cinematography of some of nature’s most rugged terrain, the film shows how one group is willing to protect their way of life at all costs, risking perhaps even their own lives.
An ecological rallying cry seldom seen in today’s rapidly industrialising China, Kekexili is even rarer in that there are no true villains, just people driven to evil deeds by desperation and the need for self-preservation.