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8 THE MONGOL MESSENGER Friday, November 12, 2021. No.45
The 13th edition of
Ulaanbaatar International
Film Festival (UBIFF) has
taken place in our capital.
As leaves wear their fall
splendor, we eagerly await
this festival each year. It is
not often that the Mongolian
audience gets a chance
to see works channelling
the brightest color and the
greatest depth of today’s
cinema on the big screen.
UBIFF kicked off with
Compartment No. 6 direc­
ted by Finland’s Juho Kuos­
manen. The leading character
Laura is heading to Murmansk
to see cuneiforms. In the
train compartment she meets
Lyoha, a guy who seems like
a complete opposite of her
lover Irina, and this encounter
will mark the beginning of
an unforgettable journey,
an unequivocally unique
connection. Anyone who ever
took the train from Moscow
to Ulaanbaatar, and vice
versa, understands the special,
indescribable bond formed
with one’s train mate in the
course of a long journey. As
they travel through the 90s’
snow-draped Russia, the one
to melt the loneliness in the
depths of Laura’s heart is not
Irina, but that seemingly brute
miner Lyoha. The scene with
Laura and Lyoha playing in
the snowstorm was a balm
to the heart, that renewed
my faith in humanity. Such
prosaic connections, simple
things are the underrated
treasures of life.
Russia,
loved
The focus country of this
year’s festival was Russia,
which is especially comme­
morative since the 13th edi­
tion of UBIFF coincided
with the 100th anniversary
of diplomatic relations bet­
ween our countries. Three
highlights of current Rus­
sian cinematography were
chosen for the festival, each
unique in its origin and style
although we are generalising
them under the umbrella of
Russia. Whaler Boy is set in
Chukotka, Unclenching the
Fists takes place in North
Ossetia, while The Last
Darling Bulgaria, based on
Mikhail Zoshchenko’s Before
Sunrise, is set in Almaty of
Kazakhstan. Whaler Boy
was filmed in a small village
Lorino in Chukotka starring
the real villagers, including
two of the main characters.
Unclenching the Fists
was undeniably one of the
strongest films screened
at this year’s festival. We,
especially the women in the
audience, were immersed
in the suffering of Ada, who
struggled with all her might to
break free of Zaur’s ‘clenched
fist’. Neither the characters,
nor we, were able to answer
the question of whether
that was love, encumbrance
or oppression. The acting,
notably that of the main four
characters, was exceptional,
as was the cinematography.
Russian films are well
received by the UBIFF’s
audience, three of the audience
awards of which went to
Russian films in the past.
Due to the pandemic, the
cinema industry has been
rather inactive, which is the
reason for cancelling the
Mongolian film competition
Garuda this year. However,
the festival organizers decided
to showcase all four films sent
prior to the cancelling, namely
Big Game, Bright Encounter,
Snow Man and Z. OE 41. If
the competition took place
as it was planned to, Z.OE
41 could have won, for it
clearly challenged the typical
commercial filmmaking of the
Mongolian industry.
Pain and
relief
On the fourth day came
the New Horizon section,
which was introduced last
year for showcasing Asian
cinema. Starting last year, the
festival is showcasing one
classic Mongolian film every
year, starring the artists who
are alive today to introduce
the work. The importance of
reintroducing the films from
the golden age of Mongolian
cinematography cannot be
overstated. Last year’s special
screening was Gobi Mirage
(1980), and this year’s was
People’s Envoy. State honored
artist Jigjid Dejid’s directorial
debut, The People’s Envoy
made history, when it was
selected for Moscow’s first
international film festival,
where it won the Best leading
actress award.
In the framework of the
festival, From the Archive of
Mongolian Cinematography
exhibition was held at the Red
Ger creative space of Arts
Council of Mongolia, one of
the festival’s main organizers.
It featured posters of the
best Mongolian films made
during the socialist period of
our nation’s history. We will
surely see a broader selection
of events in addition to the
main screenings in the coming
years.
UBIFF aims to deve­
lop
the art of cinema in Mon­
golia and expand interna­
tional collaborations. In this
capacity, the festival part­
nered with Locarno Film
Festival to present the Open
Doors Regional Forum for
South, Southeast Asian and
Mongolian film profes­
sio­
nals. Also, training for pro­
duction designers and a
forum in collaboration with
the Ministry of Culture took
place.
This year was inspirational
to the future filmmakers, with
many films made by young
directors. From Unclenching
the Fists’s Kira Kovalenko,
Whaler Boy’s Phillipp
Yuryev to two Asian directors
presented in the New Horizon
Section, as well as the Hit the
Road’s Panah Panahi, most
of the directors from this
year’s selection were young
filmmakers.
A Night of Knowing
Nothing by 35-year-old Payal
Kapadia, winner of the Golden
Eye for best documentary
at the Cannes Film Festival,
has shown us documentary
filmmaking from a new angle.
The film is composed of
archival footage of campus
protests and the narration of
letters written by student L to
her lover who got away. It is
a fascinating combination of
fiction and nonfiction. India,
shown to us through the eyes
of a young filmmaker, seemed
very familiar to our reality,
with its educational inequality,
social stratification, etc.
As I was watching, I kept
thinking, if we don’t see this
kind of work from time to
time, we might surrender in
despair and grow incapable
of fighting injustice we face
in our everyday life. The next
film, Myanma director Maung
Sun’s Money Has Four Legs
had us laughing the whole
time.
Five of the films screened
at this year’s festival, I’m
Your Man, Unclenching the
Fists, Memoria, Compartment
No. 6 and Olga will present
Germany, Russia, Colombia,
Finland and Switzerland
respectively at the Academy
Award for Best International
Feature Film selection.
Courage, resolution,
fortitude
On the fifth day, the
International Film section
started. The first to be
screened was Happening, this
year’s Golden Lion winner
at the Venice Film Festival.
The protagonist, Annie, is a
literature student studying
literature. After getting
pregnant, she sees her future
slipping away, and decides to
terminate the pregnancy, even
if she must risk prison to do
so. In the 1960s’ France, it is
forbidden to speak of abortion,
let alone having it done.
Unable to talk to even her
closest friends, she is forced
to do the battle all alone,
which is truly heartbreaking
to watch. The word ‘abortion’
isn’t mentioned once during
the film. The compact, honest
portrayal of Annie’s struggle
with great attention to detail
has made this film incredibly
potent. To this day, abortion
is illegal in many countries
around the world.
International screening
continued with Onoda: 10,000
Nights in the Jungle, a film
chronicling the life of Hiroo
Onoda, an Imperial Japanese
Army officer who remained
at his jungle post on Lubang
island of the Philippines for
29 years, well after World
War II ended. In this section,
we also saw I’m Your Man, a
German film about a scientist
who, in order to get funding
for her study, agrees to live for
three weeks with a humanoid
robot designed to be her
perfect life partner. The last
screening of the penultimate
night was Petrov’s Flu, a new
film by Kirill Serebrennikov,
who won the UBIFF audience
award three years ago for his
film Leto about Viktor Tsoi
and Mike Naumenko. Auto
mechanic Petrov catches a
mysterious flu, after which
the reality and hallucinations
become indistinguishable
in his mind. Recollections,
dreams, things imagined, real
events are mixed, bombarding
his consciousness like a
stream of chaotic thoughts.
His experience of working in
leading theatres in Moscow,
Saint Petersburg and other
cities can be clearly seen in
his films. Every moment of
this transfixing film, one of the
strongest works at this year’s
UBIFF, is reminiscent of a life
well known by Mongolians
over thirty.
The last day of the festival,
started with French director
Elie Grappe’s Olga, starred
two of the long-awaited
films of this year. First of
the two was Memoria, a new
work by famous thai director
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
who has won multiple
prestigious awards including
Palm d’Or, and the second
was a debut feature film by
Panah Panahi, a son of Jafar
Panahi, another beloved artist
of the Cannes and Venice.
Memoria begins with the
protagonist Jessica’s arrival
in Bogota. While she is
living in Bogota taking care
of her ill sister, one night she
hears a loud bang rendering
her unable to sleep. She
soon starts investigating the
appearance of the sound that
disrupted her life and meets
Hernan. Memoria gave us two
hours of tranquility, conscious
sleep, in other words “a tiny
death”, as postulated of sleep
in the film.
The festival ended with
Panah Panahi’s Hit the Road.
As we followed the family
on the road to borders, in a
journey which seemed like
a typical trip on the surface,
as we discovered the truth
behind their carefully hidden
expressions of pain, we were
propelled once again to think
about freedom. Freedom is
dearer than life. Freedom
to create, freedom to think,
freedom to own one’s own
body.
Alas, the festival ended.
The audience award Garuda
has flown to Iran to Hit the
Road’s creators. See you
next year at the Ulaanbaatar
International Film Festival to
witness its new heights.
P.Nominbileg
Arts Council of Mongolia, Delta Foundation Center, IV floor, Tourists Street-38, Chingeltei District Tel/Fax: 976-11-319015 E-mail: marketing@artscouncil.mn Web: www.artscouncil.mn
ARTS COUNCIL OF MONGOLIA
ARTS
COUNCIL
OF MONGOLIA
The Mongol Messenger is operated and printed by government news agency MONTSAME Web: montsame.mn/en E-mail: mongolmessenger@montsame.gov.mn mongolmessenger@yahoo.com. ISSN 1684-1883
ARTS
UBIFF:Songsoffreedom
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MM ACM-November 2021

  • 1. 8 THE MONGOL MESSENGER Friday, November 12, 2021. No.45 The 13th edition of Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival (UBIFF) has taken place in our capital. As leaves wear their fall splendor, we eagerly await this festival each year. It is not often that the Mongolian audience gets a chance to see works channelling the brightest color and the greatest depth of today’s cinema on the big screen. UBIFF kicked off with Compartment No. 6 direc­ ted by Finland’s Juho Kuos­ manen. The leading character Laura is heading to Murmansk to see cuneiforms. In the train compartment she meets Lyoha, a guy who seems like a complete opposite of her lover Irina, and this encounter will mark the beginning of an unforgettable journey, an unequivocally unique connection. Anyone who ever took the train from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, and vice versa, understands the special, indescribable bond formed with one’s train mate in the course of a long journey. As they travel through the 90s’ snow-draped Russia, the one to melt the loneliness in the depths of Laura’s heart is not Irina, but that seemingly brute miner Lyoha. The scene with Laura and Lyoha playing in the snowstorm was a balm to the heart, that renewed my faith in humanity. Such prosaic connections, simple things are the underrated treasures of life. Russia, loved The focus country of this year’s festival was Russia, which is especially comme­ morative since the 13th edi­ tion of UBIFF coincided with the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations bet­ ween our countries. Three highlights of current Rus­ sian cinematography were chosen for the festival, each unique in its origin and style although we are generalising them under the umbrella of Russia. Whaler Boy is set in Chukotka, Unclenching the Fists takes place in North Ossetia, while The Last Darling Bulgaria, based on Mikhail Zoshchenko’s Before Sunrise, is set in Almaty of Kazakhstan. Whaler Boy was filmed in a small village Lorino in Chukotka starring the real villagers, including two of the main characters. Unclenching the Fists was undeniably one of the strongest films screened at this year’s festival. We, especially the women in the audience, were immersed in the suffering of Ada, who struggled with all her might to break free of Zaur’s ‘clenched fist’. Neither the characters, nor we, were able to answer the question of whether that was love, encumbrance or oppression. The acting, notably that of the main four characters, was exceptional, as was the cinematography. Russian films are well received by the UBIFF’s audience, three of the audience awards of which went to Russian films in the past. Due to the pandemic, the cinema industry has been rather inactive, which is the reason for cancelling the Mongolian film competition Garuda this year. However, the festival organizers decided to showcase all four films sent prior to the cancelling, namely Big Game, Bright Encounter, Snow Man and Z. OE 41. If the competition took place as it was planned to, Z.OE 41 could have won, for it clearly challenged the typical commercial filmmaking of the Mongolian industry. Pain and relief On the fourth day came the New Horizon section, which was introduced last year for showcasing Asian cinema. Starting last year, the festival is showcasing one classic Mongolian film every year, starring the artists who are alive today to introduce the work. The importance of reintroducing the films from the golden age of Mongolian cinematography cannot be overstated. Last year’s special screening was Gobi Mirage (1980), and this year’s was People’s Envoy. State honored artist Jigjid Dejid’s directorial debut, The People’s Envoy made history, when it was selected for Moscow’s first international film festival, where it won the Best leading actress award. In the framework of the festival, From the Archive of Mongolian Cinematography exhibition was held at the Red Ger creative space of Arts Council of Mongolia, one of the festival’s main organizers. It featured posters of the best Mongolian films made during the socialist period of our nation’s history. We will surely see a broader selection of events in addition to the main screenings in the coming years. UBIFF aims to deve­ lop the art of cinema in Mon­ golia and expand interna­ tional collaborations. In this capacity, the festival part­ nered with Locarno Film Festival to present the Open Doors Regional Forum for South, Southeast Asian and Mongolian film profes­ sio­ nals. Also, training for pro­ duction designers and a forum in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture took place. This year was inspirational to the future filmmakers, with many films made by young directors. From Unclenching the Fists’s Kira Kovalenko, Whaler Boy’s Phillipp Yuryev to two Asian directors presented in the New Horizon Section, as well as the Hit the Road’s Panah Panahi, most of the directors from this year’s selection were young filmmakers. A Night of Knowing Nothing by 35-year-old Payal Kapadia, winner of the Golden Eye for best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival, has shown us documentary filmmaking from a new angle. The film is composed of archival footage of campus protests and the narration of letters written by student L to her lover who got away. It is a fascinating combination of fiction and nonfiction. India, shown to us through the eyes of a young filmmaker, seemed very familiar to our reality, with its educational inequality, social stratification, etc. As I was watching, I kept thinking, if we don’t see this kind of work from time to time, we might surrender in despair and grow incapable of fighting injustice we face in our everyday life. The next film, Myanma director Maung Sun’s Money Has Four Legs had us laughing the whole time. Five of the films screened at this year’s festival, I’m Your Man, Unclenching the Fists, Memoria, Compartment No. 6 and Olga will present Germany, Russia, Colombia, Finland and Switzerland respectively at the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film selection. Courage, resolution, fortitude On the fifth day, the International Film section started. The first to be screened was Happening, this year’s Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival. The protagonist, Annie, is a literature student studying literature. After getting pregnant, she sees her future slipping away, and decides to terminate the pregnancy, even if she must risk prison to do so. In the 1960s’ France, it is forbidden to speak of abortion, let alone having it done. Unable to talk to even her closest friends, she is forced to do the battle all alone, which is truly heartbreaking to watch. The word ‘abortion’ isn’t mentioned once during the film. The compact, honest portrayal of Annie’s struggle with great attention to detail has made this film incredibly potent. To this day, abortion is illegal in many countries around the world. International screening continued with Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, a film chronicling the life of Hiroo Onoda, an Imperial Japanese Army officer who remained at his jungle post on Lubang island of the Philippines for 29 years, well after World War II ended. In this section, we also saw I’m Your Man, a German film about a scientist who, in order to get funding for her study, agrees to live for three weeks with a humanoid robot designed to be her perfect life partner. The last screening of the penultimate night was Petrov’s Flu, a new film by Kirill Serebrennikov, who won the UBIFF audience award three years ago for his film Leto about Viktor Tsoi and Mike Naumenko. Auto mechanic Petrov catches a mysterious flu, after which the reality and hallucinations become indistinguishable in his mind. Recollections, dreams, things imagined, real events are mixed, bombarding his consciousness like a stream of chaotic thoughts. His experience of working in leading theatres in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other cities can be clearly seen in his films. Every moment of this transfixing film, one of the strongest works at this year’s UBIFF, is reminiscent of a life well known by Mongolians over thirty. The last day of the festival, started with French director Elie Grappe’s Olga, starred two of the long-awaited films of this year. First of the two was Memoria, a new work by famous thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul who has won multiple prestigious awards including Palm d’Or, and the second was a debut feature film by Panah Panahi, a son of Jafar Panahi, another beloved artist of the Cannes and Venice. Memoria begins with the protagonist Jessica’s arrival in Bogota. While she is living in Bogota taking care of her ill sister, one night she hears a loud bang rendering her unable to sleep. She soon starts investigating the appearance of the sound that disrupted her life and meets Hernan. Memoria gave us two hours of tranquility, conscious sleep, in other words “a tiny death”, as postulated of sleep in the film. The festival ended with Panah Panahi’s Hit the Road. As we followed the family on the road to borders, in a journey which seemed like a typical trip on the surface, as we discovered the truth behind their carefully hidden expressions of pain, we were propelled once again to think about freedom. Freedom is dearer than life. Freedom to create, freedom to think, freedom to own one’s own body. Alas, the festival ended. The audience award Garuda has flown to Iran to Hit the Road’s creators. See you next year at the Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival to witness its new heights. P.Nominbileg Arts Council of Mongolia, Delta Foundation Center, IV floor, Tourists Street-38, Chingeltei District Tel/Fax: 976-11-319015 E-mail: marketing@artscouncil.mn Web: www.artscouncil.mn ARTS COUNCIL OF MONGOLIA ARTS COUNCIL OF MONGOLIA The Mongol Messenger is operated and printed by government news agency MONTSAME Web: montsame.mn/en E-mail: mongolmessenger@montsame.gov.mn mongolmessenger@yahoo.com. ISSN 1684-1883 ARTS UBIFF:Songsoffreedom