Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

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Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Award Winning Mongolian Film, "Khadak"

(originally published in UB Post, March 2008)

The internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning film, “Khadak” will make its debut here in Ulaanbaatar on Thursday, March 20th. The feature film by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth is a poetic journey which tells the story of Bagi, a young nomad destined to become a shaman.

The film has won 17 awards at film festivals all over the world, including: the “Lion of the Future” award at the 63rd Venice Film Festival; Best Actor and Actress Award at the First Asian Film Festival in Singapore; the Cultural Award of Flanders in Belgium and an Honorable Mention for the Swarovski Cultural Innovation Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival. Batzul Khayankhyarvaa and Tsetsegee Byamba, who play the lead characters, won Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the First Asian Films Festival in Singapore on December 4th.

Set in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, Khadak tells the epic story of Bagi, a young nomad confronted with his destiny to become a shaman. A plague strikes, killing many animals in the countryside. Nomads are therefore forced to relocate to desolate mining towns. Bagi saves the life of a beautiful coal thief, Zolzaya, and together they reveal that the plague was a lie, fabricated to eradicate nomadic life. A sublime revolution follows.

Filmmaker, Peter Brosens first came to Mongolia in the early 1990’s, a time when Mongolia was a newly emerging democracy. It gave him the opportunity to see it transform into an entirely different society. His initial impressions of this transformation were first portrayed in “City of the Steppes” (1993), followed by “State of Dogs” (1998) and “Poets of Mongolia” (1999). His films attempt to capture the idiosyncrasies of the culture. “Khadak” is his first feature film, co-directed with his partner, Jessica Woodworth.

One of the key themes in the movie is how Mongolia has changed - the once nomadic culture has become increasingly urbanized. The film explores the tensions between modernity and traditional life. And with the debate over mining policies these days in Mongolia, “Khadak” is a timely reflection of the anxieties and turbulence produced by such controversial mining policies.

Currently, Brosen and Woodworth are preparing their next film, “Fragments of Grace”. They also have plans to do some filming in Peru, later this year. Jessica Woodworth plans to attend the premier here in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to YouTube video:

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