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Mongolian film opens window on vast country
By Brian Offenther

HOLLYWOOD, Bollywood, Paris, and Hong Kong films are famous, but what about Ulaanbaatar?

Tomorrow movie fans will get a chance to see how the young film industry in Mongolia is doing when the documentary "Across the Sacred Land of Chinggis Khan" is screened for free. The film will be introduced by the director and editor, Javkha Ara.

The documentary focuses on Darkhan, Mongolia, the country's second-biggest city. Even with that "second-biggest" designation, it's important to note that it only has 100,000 people and 50 years of modern history. However, as the director states, despite the recent establishment of the city, "in the land there is much history untold."

Javkha Ara attempts to capture this by interviewing Mongolian historians, following photographers as they attempt to capture the 900-square-kilometer area, and riding along with American extreme adventurers.

He is proud of what his lens captured. "We were able to open some places, very ancient places, that hadn't been seen by many people before," says the filmmaker.

"Across the Sacred Land of Chinggis Khan" was first shown on several national broadcasting channels in Mongolia, and then became available on DVD. It is primarily in Mongolian with English subtitles. This is the typical route for many Mongolian films, since there are only a handful of theaters in the vast country, and foreign blockbusters soak up a lot of attention. This wasn't always the case.

Things changed in 1990, however, when the former Soviet Union lost its influence in Mongolia. While this proved fruitful for Mongolia in many ways, the film industry was not a beneficiary. "After 1990, the Mongolian film market was completely gone," says Javkha Ara. "But over the last five years, it is rising again."

He has high hopes for his current documentary titled "Nomadic Hip Hip" about how Mongolian teenagers in the countryside learn and perform hip-hop.

His inspiration for the film industry: "This is about real life. Also, I love to learn history."

Beyond success in the Mongolian film market, Javkha Ara has another goal: "I would like to work with Chinese filmmakers."

With goals beyond its borders, the Mongolian film industry still has a long way to go, but this might not be the last time the land of Chinggis Khan or Genghis Khan has influenced China.

The film will be screened at 8pm at The Apartment (47 Yongfu Rd, near Fuxing Rd W.).


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