Running Time: 90 mins.
Rated: Rated PG
A pleasing docudrama filmed in Southern Mongolia. The director, Byambusuren Davaa, comes from this area, grew up in the city but wanted to portray the way of life in the Gobi desert that his grandparents had lived. The film focuses on an extended family, their relationships, the different generations: the wisdom of the grandparents, the practical skills and experience of the parents, the portrait of two young brothers and their little sister. The film's showing life in the home, with attention to the fine details of the decorations and hangings in the tent are often quite funny and moving.
The film also focuses on the camels which the people herd in the desert. The grandfather beginning with his story of the camels originally having antlers but then giving them to the envious deer - but the deer never returned the antlers, which left the camels perpetually staring into the distance. Central to the film is a very difficult birth of a camel calf and the mother's disdain for her young, the desperation of the young colt, especially to get to his mother to feed. The family send the young boys into the town to bring back a violinist to play ritual music to soothe the mother, and this is effective. This part of the film is quite emotional as audiences respond deeply to the mother's rejection and then her weeping at the music and drawing close to the colt. The film also shows the young boys interested in city life and television and the finale of the film shows the city coming to the desert and the family setting up a satellite dish on their tent.
The film was the official Mongolian film nominating for selection for Best Foreign Language Oscar. It won a SIGNIS commendation at the Hong Kong Festival.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.