Winner 2011

A Year in the Clouds

Public Television Service & IFA Co-production, Taipei, Taiwan

Once so inaccessible it was known as the Village of Darkness, Smangus, high in the mountains of Taiwan, is home to an indigenous people known as the Tayal. It has electricity now to power lights and stoves and the guitars that some of the youngsters have in their rooms, but the residents still maintain some old tribal ways, including labor-intensive farming methods and a communal way of life unique in all of modern Taiwan. All the Tayal’s land and property is commonly owned, and the villagers share whatever profit they make from their crops and the eco-tourists who come to see the ancient cypress forests nearby. The producers of A Year in the Clouds developed a trusting relationship with the Tayal and documented a variety of events: a harvest, the chief’s discovery that he has cancer, a wedding, the birth of baby girl, even dissension by a group who try to launch a competing tourism business. From the breathtaking opening shots of the mountains cloaked in mist to the video of the bicycling paymaster delivering his fellow villagers’ monthly checks, this leisurely, beautifully photographed documentary shows us a people who work hard but live comfortably, a people who appear to have an instructive wisdom about what constitutes “enough.” For its intimate portrait of an unusual outpost and its inhabitants, A Year in the Clouds receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Leh-chyun Lin. Supervising Producer: Jessie Shih. Producer: Selena Tsao. Directors: Dean Johnson, Frank Smith. Writer: Frank Smith. Editor: Min-Chi Tu