The People of Inle Lake

Lenght: 43' HD

Year of production: 2013 

Country of production: Germany

Author: Christopher Gerisch

The People of Inle Lake
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Inle Lake is a unique microcosm of Burmese culture set amidst breathtaking nature. The way the people of the lake live arouses a sense of yearning and conveys the illusion of an archaic, perfect world. Here, the whole scope of Burmese ancient traditions is reflected unadulterated. For a long time the region was inaccessible to outsiders, but now, in the course of the country’s political reorientation, the life circumstances of the people of the lake are changing too. The lake is a lifeline for fishermen and farmers alike. The unique floating gardens of the latter are cultivated on the water’s surface, resembling a giant carpet of water lilies. Here people grow fruit and vegetables as well as flowers. The nutrient medium for these unusual fields is provided by a fertile mixture of marsh, soil, and water hyacinths, which is fixed to the lakebed with bamboo stakes. This unique artificial landscape offers the locals sufficient food and work all at once – in a country where neither of the two can be taken for granted. At dawn the fishermen skilfully row out to cast their nets. Their leg-rowing technique is unique. An utterly magical ambience in a magical place. Yet the lake’s ecosystem is in jeopardy. An increasing amount of water has been tapped illegally in recent years, and as a result the lake dries out almost completely during the summer months. It is a problem that people now finally want to address within the framework of the political changes in the country. Once a week there is a market at the lakeshore. Colourfully dressed traders come down from the surrounding mountains. Oxcarts clatter over bumpy roads just as they did a thousand years ago. Old wrinkled-faced women sell their hand-rolled cheroots. Young girls with faces made-up using a yellow paste beam as though in a beauty contest. Spread out on the ground lies the fruit of the lake. The flustered excitement of the market day is over once the last traders have left by late afternoon, and the enchanted scenery, bathed in a milky twilight, is tranquil again.

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