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The Universe Multicultural Film Festival seeks to bring to the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from the world; Committed to enlightening the public with a unique international film program, a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities. The Festival focuses on showcasing diverse cultural and heritages films, supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works of both emerging and seasoned filmmakers, and proudly embraces the passion, independent spirit, and vision of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions into all aspects of the Festival, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate and share the harmonious universe.


“On Matriarchy Lake” is a true Motion Picture made in Mosuo

On Matriarchy Lake poster

“On Matriarchy Lake” is a romantic drama about star-crossed lovers in an isolated village in China. The lovers are Li Fei, a young worker stationed in the village and Na Zhu, a local Mosuo woman. The Mosuo are a matrilineal ethnic group with a tradition of ‘walking marriages’, in which husbands visit their wives at night, but live apart during the day.

What starts as a sweet love story about cultural differences becomes tragic when Li Fei is forced to return to the city. A series of missed encounters and the deliberate interference of Na Zhu’s family keeps the pair apart for a full decade. I won’t spoil the dramatic turn of events that reunites them, but the film ends on a bittersweet, but hopeful note.

The film’s strongest point is its ability to convey a story with very little dialogue. Interspersed throughout the film are flashbacks to Na Zhu’s Aunt’s own romance. Like Na Zhu, she fell in love with an outsider. Their relationship ended with the ultimate betrayal, which fuels her current distrust of Li Fei. These scenes are almost entirely without dialogue, depending on the actors’ physical performances. They completely deliver.

Another highlight is the costuming and production design. The film is shot on location in a beautiful lakeside village. The gorgeous outfits the villagers wear are all actual garments created by Mosuo artisans. Mosuo actors also play most of the supporting and background roles. This involvement helps the film to portray the cultural differences between the two leads sensitively. It introduces the audience to an unfamiliar lifestyle without judgement.

Overall, “On Matriarchy Lake” is a sweet film and a great introduction to an unfamiliar culture.


Article by Jessica Haro 


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