High in the mountains of Taiwan, is the village of Smangus, inhabited by a group of Indigenous people. This film takes the audience into the mountains of Taiwan to witness the passing of a year amongst the Tayal. 20 years ago, the tribe was amongst the poorest on the island, many were forced to seek low paid labor in the cities, but the chief, Icyeh Sulung had a vision of great trees that would ensure the tribe’s survival. The tribe found a forest of Cypress trees that were to change their future.
The rare Chamaecyparis formosensis Matsum forest were estimated to be more than 2000 years old, and the interest from tourists turned Smangus into a thriving eco-tourism center. The sudden wealth and pressures from outside played havoc with the tribe’s unity, and the tribe made a fateful decision to ensure their future – everything was to be shared. Smangus is the only place in Taiwan that now practices common ownership of land and property.
Now, PTS tells the story of Smangus. As spring comes to the mountains, the chief is diagnosed with cancer, whilst a small group from the tribe rejects the communal system and tries to build a competing tourism business. By summer, a baby girl is born to the tribe, and by the time of the harvest, a wedding takes place. By winter, we have experienced every part of the lives of these people, and the bonds formed with the forest around them.