Ask any film buff to name five directors from France or America, and they could come up with ten directors easy. But if you were to ask them to name two directors from Mongolia, well, its likely they'd answer with Genghis Khan, then laugh. Tell that to Steve Elkins, who curates the monthly film series at Hibbleton Gallery; this month, his worldly cinematic reach extends to the country to examine and discuss its contemporary cinema, from Oscar-nominated docs to haunting art house flicks.
As always, stimulating discussions laced with wine and beer complete these films after every screening. What cinephile could stay away from checking out such films as:
January 5: State of Dogs (dir. Dorjkhandyn Turmunkh, 1998)
A city-wide mandate to get ride of stray dogs leads to the shooting death of a small dog. The dog's spirit then takes off on a mystical journey pondering whether to become a human in its next life, as is the custom according to Mongolian legend.
January 12: The Story of the Weeping Camel (dir. Byambasuren Davaa, 2003)
A documentary by Byambasuren Davaa about a tribe of shepherds' efforts to get a mother camel to love its newborn after it rejects it for being born a white colt. The shepherds realize they need the aid of an ancient shamanic ritual that only a local musician can provide.
January 19: The Cave of the Yellow Dog (dir. Byambasuren Davaa, 2005)
A second film by director Byambasuren Davaa, this time a feature film depicting the growing friendship between a young nomadic girl named Nansal and a stray dog. Against her parents' wishes, Nansal keeps the dog, and it leads her to a journey of exploration of reincarnation and the afterlife.
January 26: Mongolian Ping Pong (dir. Hao Ning, 2005)
The lives of an isolated peasant family are interrupted when a mysterious ball is found in the creek nearby. Questions arise about its origins and its purpose, and young son Bililike and his friends Ergouotou and Dawa are the most curious. After consulting with elders, neighbors, and a local lama, they don't figure out the ball's true purpose until they learn about ping pong from watching a TV show on Dawa's father's new television set. The boys learn that the ball is the 'national ball of China' and set out to Beijing to return the ball to the Chinese capital.
For more information on the screenings, visit the Hibbleton Gallery Facebook event page here. See you there!