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Abstract

In his article "The Myth of Nothing in Classics and Asian Indigenous Films" Sheng-mei Ma discusses how the desert and the permafrost region are terra incognita, except nomads and Indigenous peoples. Given the extreme conditions of these forbidding places, Western modernity sees its own shadow cast on such black holes on earth. Since the 1960s, classic Hollywood or art house films by David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Anthony Minghella, and Sergei Bodrov romanticize and/or mythologize what is perceived as modernity's mirror image. Indie films in recent decades, particularly by Asian Indigenous filmmakers Byambasuren Davaa, Zacharias Kunuk, and Khyentse Norbu trained in or collaborated with the West, seek to tell their own stories. Despite different perspectives and modes of representation, both mainstream and alternative film-making agree on the task of myth-making, self-forging out of nothing, and the barrenness and voidness of the land.