A scene from Roof of the World Photo: Courtesy of Beijing Five Star Legend Culture Company
Seen by many as a holy land for people to refresh their souls [url=http://www.cheapnhljerseysflames.com/michael-frolik-jersey/]Michael Frolik Womens Jersey[/url] , China's Tibet Autonomous Region has always been a very appealing place for people from other cultures to seek novelty. It has also been a much coveted source for documentaries and filmmakers. Whether you've been there or not, you're sure to be impressed by views of the region shown on Roof of the World, a recent hit documentary that premiered on CCTV-4 from March 25-30, and is currently being rebroadcast on CCTV-9 and CCTV-10.
Co-produced by CCTV and the Beijing Five Star Legend Culture Company, the 6-episode documentary approaches Tibet by looking at its unique natural scenery and geography, while underscoring the close bond between local people and the life that surrounds them.
"From the start, this documentary was set to be one that focuses on nature and geography. It has been a long-time wish of mine to produce a quality show just like those produced by the Discovery Channel," Zeng Hairuo, the general director for Roof of the World, told the Global Times. "But when we started to shoot, I found that the most appealing part in Tibet was the stories of local people. Their relations with each other as well as with the environment. This makes the documentary very different from similar programs."
After the serial food documentary A Bite of China swept the country in 2012, audiences seemed to begin to warm up to domestic documentaries. Looking at the viewership numbers for the first run of Roof of the World, it looks like it will be the next big hit after A Bite of China.
Between March 25 and 30, the average audience ratings for the documentary on CCTV-4 was 0.37 percent, 10 percent higher than TV dramas shown in the same timeslot. Online the show has earned more than 20 million views on youku, an average of 3 million views per episode and the best numbers for a domestic documentary since A Bite of China.
Roof of the World has also attracted a lot of attention from overseas audiences. According to data collected by Sina Weibo, 6.3 percent of those who have watched the documentary and took part in the discussion on Sina Weibo are outside of China. Echoing this popularity among foreign audiences is the fact that the broadcast rights for Roof of World has been purchased by National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) in the US, making the show a rare case of a domestic documentary successfully exported to a famed international documentary platform.
International standard, local story
Aiming to produce a documentary that could live up to international standards, Zeng and his team began working on the project in March of 2013. "We dispatched six groups for initial research over six months, and filming took about a year," said Zeng. Having watched numerous foreign travel documentaries, Zeng said he believes the 4k-resolution of Roof of the World has reached international standards when it comes to technological norms to include the photography and audio recording.
During the whole year spent on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the team covered 10,000 km in distance and explored more than 60 little-known or uninhabited places, while also setting records in many fields like diving in an icy lake 5,000 meters above sea level and filming from cliffs 200 meters above the Brahmaputra River.
"Every member of the filming crew got sick at some point during shooting, and I can't remember how many car accidents and landslides we came across," said Zeng.
The rich ecological system that exists in these extreme conditions have become one of the most appealing parts of the documentary for audiences that have never been to Tibet as well as those that have. For those who have personally experienced Tibet for themselves and may have developed their own ideas about the place, the documentary has helped reshape their views of the region by taking them deeper into the lives of the local people there.
"Like many people, before I went to Tibet for this documentary it was some mysterious land," said Zeng. "But when I got there and spent nearly a year with different people, I've come to feel that the word 'mysterious' is the least accurate possible. Everyone there is closely connected to modern society. They use the Internet and WeChat as frequently as we do, and this doesn't affect their preservation of tradition at all."
Five of the six episodes concentrate on local people's lives, such as finding the right mastiff for their homes, saving baby wolves even though they've lost sheep to these animals and the making of traditional paper and wine.
Besides the fresh feeling brought by observing different cultures, what many in the audience have enjoyed the most are the simple and familiar relationships between people and their environment. "How they treat each other, the animals, the grassland, or even the earth and sky, in a simple and respectable way, these feelings may be somewhat distant for those of us living in big cities today, but at their root I think they are also very familiar," said Zeng.
Focusing on the lives of common Tibetan people has also earned the documentary applause from experts, who regard it as a good example of how to relate local stories.
"It approaches the region in detail, presenting the nature of Tibetan culture by telling stories about the common people and their daily lives," said Zhang Yun from the Research Center on Tibetology. "For audiences who know the place well, they can tell that the documentary is reflecting the real Tibet. For those who aren't familiar with the place, the documentary is a great guide," Zhang said at a forum for the documentary held on April 1 in Beijing.
Depicting spiritually enlightening stories that show how people survive in extreme conditions, Roof of the World secured a dedi
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