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. This intimate window reveals the current state of Sky Burial as an anecdote of the larger ideological issues in Tibet today - exploring a world in which nature and culture, humans and animals, spirituality and politics are all interconnected.
Russell O. Bush is a rural Alaskan turned filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. As a director, cinematographer, and editor he works in narrative fiction, documentary, and wildlife filmmaking. Russell’s most recent film, VULTURES OF TIBET, shot in Tibet when foreign journalists were barred from entering the region, was nominated for a 2013 Student Academy Award and has screened throughout the United States and Europe at film festivals including AFI Docs (Silverdocs), The Edinburgh International Film Festival, and The Maryland Film Festival.
He received his MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas at Austin where VULTURES OF TIBET, his Masters Thesis was awarded UT’s 2013 Outstanding Masters Thesis Award.
The film was also supported by a number of grants during its production including two Texas Filmmakers Production Fund Grants from the Austin Film Society, The Nick Cominos Endowment for Documentary Film, and the University of Texas at Austin’s Documentary Filmmaker Award.
Prior to VULTURES OF TIBET, Russell wrote and directed a number of narrative short films including MAGPIE, which premiered at SXSW 2012 and was called “The strongest of the lot” by DFW.com. Alongside directing, Russell is also a cinematographer who’s worked everywhere from the studio to waist deep snow in the Alaska Mountain Range with National Geographic Television’s UNTAMED AMERICAS series. He has also worked in the offices of the production and broadcast teams at [ITVS] The Independent Television Service in San Francisco, CA, as well as on their supported documentary feature BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (PJ Raval) which premiered at SXSW, 2013.
As a storyteller, Russell’s is fascinated by myth, superstition, and obscurity as a place from which to discover new understandings through cinema.