China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

hen you work hard, you will get lucky. When you are brave, you will be ca­pa­ble of change.”

The words are from I Am from Xin­jiang on the Silk Road, a book by Kur­ban­jan Sa­mat, an eth­nic Uygur photographer from Hotan in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Re­leased two years ago, the book cap­tures the daily lives of some 100 na­tiveswhonowl­ive in dif­fer­ent parts of China, with the aim of un­fold­ing a panorama of the re­gion for a wide sec­tion of readers.

But the photographer’s am­bi­tions were not lim­ited to the book— he wanted a screen ver­sion of it, too.

Fol­low­ing months of shoot­ing with his cre­wand trav­el­ing more than 80,000 kilo­me­ters to col­lect footage, a six-episode doc­u­men­tary by the same ti­tle pre­miered on China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion’s Chan­nel 9 on Wed­nes­day.

It was also si­mul­ta­ne­ously broad­cast over three ma­jor on­line plat­forms— LeTV, iQiyi and Ten­cent. Each episode is 25 min­utes. “Per­haps you’ll be dis­ap­pointed if you only look for pic­turesque land­scapes of Xin­jiang in the doc­u­men­tary,” ex­plain­sKur­ban­jan Sa­mat, 34, the show’s chief di­rec­tor and pro­ducer.

“Here, the re­gion is only used as a back­ground. The doc­u­men­tary fo­cuses on peo­ple— their joys and sor­rows— and re­flects is­sues of rel­e­vance to mod­ern so­ci­ety.”

While his book has a large num­ber of in­ter­vie­wees, the doc­u­men­tary tells the sto­ries of 18 peo­ple, who rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent so­cial strata.

“I didn’t want to clut­ter the doc­u­men­tary with too many themes,” he says.

“My topic was warmth. It sounds like an easy sub­ject. But in fact, it’s not easy at all to make an ex­quis­ite pro­duc­tion re­veal­ing peo­ple’s emo­tions.”

Peo­ple who ap­pear in the doc­u­men­tary live in dif­fer­ent places, but they have all made progress in pur­su­ing their dreams over the past three decades, he says.

“I’mtelling au­di­ences about Xin­jiang peo­ple’s Chi­nese Dream.”

Other than celebri­ties from Xin­jiang like ac­tor-turned-en­tre­pre­neur Li Yapeng, ac­tress Tong Liya and singer Parhat Ha­lik, the di­rec­tor also fo­cuses his lens on or­di­nary na­tives, rang­ing from a ke­bab ven­dor in Bei­jing to en­trepreneurs and sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion mi­grants to Shang­hai.

In­ter­vie­wee Ka­hal Basir, a 35-year-old man from Aksu, runs an English-lan­guage train­ing cen­ter for chil­dren in Jin­hua, a small city in eastern Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

He says in the doc­u­men­tary that he has faced many chal­lenges in his ca­reer while try­ing to find a wife.

Although his school once went through many dif­fi­cul­ties, the man be­lieves it will ex­pand na­tion­wide in the fu­ture.

“Since I’ve cho­sen this road, I will stick to it. What I want is sim­ple: to help­morechil­dren,” Ka­hal Basir says.

“When peo­ple are ex­posed to a mul­ti­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment, their hori­zons can be ex­panded and they won’t be nar­row-minded.”

Other than of­fer­ing Ka­hal Basir a chance to speak about his life and work, the doc­u­men­tary brought him another ben­e­fit. He fell in love with an in­ter­vie­wee, also from the show, her.

Ac­tor Li says par­tic­i­pat­ing in such a project gives Xin­jiang na­tives, liv­ing away from home, the scope to look back and feel the deep­est love for their home­town.

Kur­ban­jan Sa­mat says he wants au­di­ences to also re­view their lives af­ter watch­ing the doc­u­men­tary, no mat­ter which eth­nic group in the and re­cently mar­ried coun­try they be­long to.

He also wants to high­light how his in­ter­vie­wees are work­ing hard for them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

Nev­er­the­less, this 6.5 mil­lion yuan ($985,000) project was nearly stalled due to the lack of money at first. Kur­ban­jan Sa­mat was fi­nally backed by di­verse sources, in­clud­ing au­thors, phi­lan­thropists and the Bei­jing-basedChi­ne­sePeo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence News, which once re­ported his sto­ries.

Among the doc­u­men­tary’s in­vestors is Zhao Yinhu, a busi­ness­man who ear­lier pro­vided fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to many chil­dren in western China’s poverty-stricken ar­eas.

“It is both ef­fi­cient and im­por­tant to show good ex­am­ples ofhowchil­dren are do­ing. This doc­u­men­tary shows us that,” says Zhao.

A sec­ond sea­son would pos­si­bly fol­low.

Con­tact the writer at wangkai­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn


Kur­ban­jan Sa­mat, di­rec­tor and pro­ducer of the doc­u­men­tary IAm­fromXin­jian­gontheSilkRoad, at­tends a pro­mo­tional event in Bei­jing.

Ac­tress Tong Liya is one of the celebri­ties fea­tured in the doc­u­men­tary. Kur­ban­jan Sa­mat, di­rec­tor and pro­ducer of IAm­fromXin­jian­gon theSilkRoad

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