In rapidly developing Western China, Sky Burial - a sacred ritual where the bodies of Tibetan dead are fed to wild griffon vultures - becomes a popular tourist attraction.
As seen on National Geographic's Short Film Showcase 2016, Director Russell O. Bush's VULTURES OF TIBET explores the recent commercialization of a sacred Tibetan funeral tradition known as Sky Burial. In Sky Burial, Tibetans ritually feed the bodies of their dead to wild Griffon Vultures as an offering to benefit other living beings.
With the modernization of Western China and the expansion of tourism in Tibet, burial sites are now highlighted on tourist maps and local officials charge visitors admission to view the private ritual. Against the will of affected families, visitors take photos and video, often posting them online.
Filmed in August, 2011, when regional tensions became so unbearable that scores of Tibetans began setting themselves on fire; VULTURES OF TIBET reveals the current state of Sky Burial as an anecdote of the larger ideological issues in Tibet today. Exposing a world in which nature and culture, humans and animals, spirituality and politics are all interconnected, VULTURES OF TIBET engages audiences with the potential for oppression in the act of looking.
A Film By
Russell O. Bush
Music Composed by
Russell O. Bush
Music Mix Engineer
Post Production Coordinator
Made with the support of
The Austin Film Society
The Nick Cominos Endowment for Documentary Film
The University of Texas at Austin
**Awards & Nominations**
IDA Best Documentary Short, Nominee 2013
Student Academy Award, Regional Finalist 2013
Wiley Blackwell Student Film Prize at the RAI International Ethnographic Film Festival, Commendations, 2013
Winner, Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award, The University of Texas at Austin 2013
Best Short Film, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival 2013
Winner, UT Longhorn Documentary Filmmaker Award 2013
World Premiere AFI Docs (Silverdocs) 2013
International Premiere - Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013
Palm Springs International ShortFest 2013
RAI Ethnographic Film Festival 2013
Banff Mountain Film Festival 2013
Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival 2013
Jaipur International Film Festival 2013
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2016