2020 was a year to be noted in Mongolia’s film industry. Even though 2020 was largely spent in quarantine, Mongolian filmmakers managed to shoot and release several notable films and series, such as “37 Tochka”, “The Woman”, “The Wife” and “Buruu Urug”.
Not to mention, the Single Ladies franchise is finally over with their fourth installment “Beginning and Ending”, whose conclusion was hotly anticipated by film lovers, not necessarily its premiere. Even though “37 Tochka” was sensational and a huge project, it still proved that Mongolian filmmakers are lacking good writers.
Few good films like “Bedridden” by S. Byamba and “Khokho” by J. Jamiyansuren were released and “shocked” Mongolia’s film industry with their ambition and execution. These films were special as they weren’t commercial, yet they managed to become a topic of discussion among the masses. During the forum held at the Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival, the biggest event of the field, film experts were saying that Mongolian filmmaking should develop in both ways – commercially and artistically. It’s a fact that films made in Mongolia are only focusing on the commercial aspect of the product while abandoning originality and creativity. However, we hope that Mongolian filmmakers took a signal from “Bedridden”, “Khokho” and “Black Milk” by Uisenma Borchu and “Veins of the World” by D.Byambasuren. These art films, without a doubt, raised the bar for creative directing storytelling, and narrative. Many films are expected to premiere in 2021. Some of them are ready to premiere and opting to wait for the quarantine regime to be completely lifted to avoid the pitfalls of an online release. The following are some films that are scheduled to premiere this year.
“Eej Khadny Domog”
The film based on the myth of the Mother Rock, located in Sergelen soum, Tuv Province, will premiere in 2021. “Eej Khadny Domog” is created as Chonongoo Film’s second film, following the much-acclaimed “Mother” (2016).
Actress B.Erdenetsetseg, who is known for her work at the National Academic Drama Theater, directed “Eej Khadny Domog”, and actors A.Bayartsetseg, B.Ankhbayar, B.Bilguun and B.Narmandakh make up the core cast.
Screenwriter of the film, producer, and director of Chonongoo Film B.Munkhtuya said, “There are many variations of the myth of the Mother Rock. One of them moved me so much. A mother raised six orphans whose parents were killed in the war. Some of the children she raised were also killed after they grew up. As the myth goes, that mother prayed for her children, starting from Khentii Mountains, and died at the place the rock is located. I finished the script in 2019 after losing my mother. The shooting of the film has been completed.”
Its trailer was released last week and the palette of the film looked promising.
Mongolia has many kinds of myths; however, films rarely explore them. It can be explained by the lack of computer graphics experts. But many of them can be converted into films without using CGI and the main problem is the lack of good scripts with the right amount of fantasy. Chonongoo Films isn’t experienced in these kinds of films, but they hope to meet the challenge head-on with their new film.
Mongolia’s first anthology series “Z.OE 41” directed by B.Oyunbaatar and B.Enkhtulga is a whole new thing for Mongolia. The anthology series presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode. The creators of OTZ Media are comparing the structure of the series to the blockbuster series “American Horror Story” by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk or “Black Mirror” by Charlie Brooker. The main theme of “Z.OE 41” is based on stories of people who are using a device that lets the user control their own dreams. It was clear that it was inspired by Charlie Brooker’s works as the story zooms in on the consequences of futuristic high-technology.
Before “Z.OE 41”, Mongolian filmmakers made several anthology films and released them through cinemas. The latest anthology film released in Mongolia was “Boomerang”, featuring six films with the theme of karma, made by six young directors. Even though the Mongolian audience glazed over them, the anthology films weren’t disappointing. This time, “Z.OE 41” is marketed online and through IP TVs. Its first season is now available and according to the creators, it will continue for four seasons, with 20 episodes in total.
The most disappointing part of the anthology series is casting. This kind of series, such as “Black Mirror”, is famous for casting not-so-familiar and up-and-coming actors who are perfectly suited for their roles. However, the creators of “Z.OE 41” cast D.Gursed, D.Mendbayar, B.Batbaatar, B.Khosbayar, and N.Bayarmaa, who are the staples of mainstream films or theater plays. Among them, E.Munkhtur is the worst choice as he has made appearances in almost every B-film in Mongolia.
Right now, the audiences are starving for fresh faces. Besides casting, the atmosphere of scenes and melancholic vibe were perfect for an anthology series.
"Relatives of the Sun"
Artists from UBS TV who created “Sodura” and “Goviin Domog” are working on their next film, “Relatives of the Sun”. The film tells the story of two ancient tribes that exist in harmony. They gather together once a year for a celebration and this becomes the reason for war. A man named Tsaram, who is accused of causing the war, escapes avoiding death. While escaping, he falls in love with Giimel, the daughter of the family after him. As Giimel grows fond of Tsaram, they rebel against their family and tribe.
“Relatives of the Sun” is directed and written by O.Erdene. The main characters are played by G.Altangerel of the National Academic Drama Theater and B.Zamilan. People’s Actor N.Suvd and A.Dashpeljee portrayed supporting characters. UBS TV has had ups and downs in filmmaking over the years. They started making films since the talent show “Universe Best Songs”. They made several musical films in the past, most of them dismal in terms of quality. A few years after, they debuted with character-driven mythology with “Sodura”, directed by B.Jargalsaikhan, and succeeded. Even though the storytelling of the film wasn’t particularly noteworthy, the directing and usage of CGI in nature shooting was quite impressive.
Following the success of “Sodura”, they made “The Legend of Gobi” for three years. Shooting for almost two years is a long time for Mongolian filmmakers. Ultimately, it did not meet expectations though it was innovative and attempted to tackle new challenges.
The plot of “Relatives of the Sun” clearly suggests that the third-period film by USB will be similar to the previous two. Even the cast is familiar, with B.Zamilan, who portrayed Princess Egeerel in “The Legend of Gobi”, cast in the lead. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how O.Erdene will differentiate his third film from his previous works in terms of style and directing. We hope he won’t be influenced by the style of “The Legend of Gobi”, since he wrote the script and worked as a second assistant director.