Living Cultures: Collection
Discover 13 of the most magnificent oral traditions in the world, proclaimed a Masterpiece of Human Heritage by UNESCO: Royal Ballet in Cambodia, Kabuki Theater in Japan, Woodcraft in Madagascar, Baaka songs in Central Africa …
Part 1: The Baaka Opera (Central Africa)
The Baaka Pygmies are like elves. They live in the forest, hidden under the cover of leaves. They hunt using nets and they gather wild honey at dizzying heights. No one knows the great African equatorial rainforest better than they do. They sing polyphonic songs with a unique musical texture that has fascinated the greatest musicians.
Part 2: The Celestial Dance of Bhutan
Dressed in celestial robes and wearing wooden masks, monks in Bhutan, a tiny Buddhist kingdom nestled between Tibet and India, perform a sacred dance that both purifies and cleanses negative emotions such as fear, greed or anger.
Part 3: Kabuki the Path of the Flowers (Japan)
Kabuki, a Japanese traditional theater form, transmitted from father to son, is today the most popular of the traditional styles of Japanese drama. Seventeen-year-old Kazutaro Nakamura, heir to a dynasty of famous actors, is making his debut performance on the stage of the prestigious Kabuki-Za in Tokyo.
Part 4: Kallawaya Son of Lightning (Bolivia)
Max Chura Mamani, a well-known Kallawayan doctor, is a descendant of the doctors of the Incan kings who ruled the Andes before the Spanish conquest. Maxs extended scientific knowledge of more than 1,000 medicinal plants astonishes western researchers. His garden lies at an altitude of 3,000 meters in the Bolivian valley of Charazani, the home of the Kallawaya.
Part 5: The Makishi Masquerade (Zambia)
In the village of Kashushu, in western Zambia, Patrick has five sons approaching manhood. Perpetuating the traditions of the Luvale culture is expensive, and Patrick has to sell two of his best animals to pay for his sons initiation. In the springtime, the Makishi demons, the spirits of the ancestors, return to earth during the initiation. Wearing extraordinary masks, their bodies covered in a knitted costume, they kidnap the young village boys for four months
Part 6: Red Skin (Brazil)
Fleeing from white people – their diseases, massacres, and forest clearance – the Wajapi have tried to preserve their identity and their way of life. For them, living deep in the northern Amazon forest, painting one’s skin red is a way of maintaining a link with a very ancient civilization.
Part 7: Morin Khuur the Soul of the Mongolian Horseman
In the Mongolian steppes, a family of horse herders welcomes four city children for several months. They have come to learn the Morin Khuur, an ancestral fiddle – and the untamed nature of the plains are a great source of inspiration. Omba, a wise old musician, is one of the last teachers of the Morin Khuur.
Part 8: The Last Bedu of Petra and Wadi Rum (Jordan)
Abu Lafi is an old Bedouin from Petra. He comes from the Bdoul community, and is from one of the last families to live in a cave inside the archeological site of Petra. Classified as a World Heritage Site since 1985, Petra has become Jordan’s biggest tourist attraction, and it provides for Abu Lafi and his family. But because of the development of tourism, the ancient Bedouin traditions are disappearing. Abu Lafi wants to prevent this from happening.
Part 9: To Play Kutiyattam with the Master (India)
Vipin is 15 years old. He is a student at the Kalamandalam School, where performing arts are taught. He has been studying Kutyattam for three years, the only traditional Sanskrit theatre in India. Each day, students are subjected to rigorous discipline and intensive trainings. Thanks to the help of their teacher, Sangi, they will learn more than 400 codified gestures and will develop a new body: the actor’s body, the Kutiyattam body.
Part 10: The Quest for the Gongs (Vietnam)
Ma Bio, a Chu Ru woman who lives in the mountains of southeast Vietnam, teaches the gong to the young generation of her village. She is worried because her set of gongs are old and pierced, and she knows she has to travel far to get new ones. Accompanied by her niece MaLuhin, she leaves on 400-mile journey across the mountains and countryside to meet the last gong makers of Vietnam, possessors of a unique know-how.
Part 11: The Tumba Francesa (Cuba)
Andrea is a radiant, attractive woman in her fifties. With her husband Flavio, she reigns over the Tumba of Santiago. The Tumba is the mother of Cuban music – dances of the French court of Versailles as seen through the eyes of slaves and brought to life by their African drums.
Part 12: Magicians of Woodcraft (Madagascar)
In the remote forests of Madagascar, Jean-Marie teaches his sons Solo and jean to carve a trunk of rosewood with an axe, so perfectly it looks like magic. The two young boys will build a traditional house like their ancestors did, following the advices of the elders. There is no known equivalent to the Zafimaniry wood crafting skills. Not a single nail is used in the construction of the villagers homes.
Part 13: The Young Girl and the Monkey (Cambodia)
Sokhun was once a famous dancer in Cambodia, but when the Khmer Rouge took over the country, all that came to an end. When a Khmer Rouge asked her what she did, she said she was a seamstress – but at night she went over the songs and dances in her head. Now, she teaches dance.