Mongolian director P.Lkhagvadulam returns to Venice (in Horizons) and Toronto (in Centrepiece) with her feature debut ‘City Of Wind’, after winning short-film prizes at both festivals last year with ‘Snow In September’. It is the first Mongolian feature ever to play at both festivals, and tells the story of a 17-year-old boy, Ze (Tergel Bold-Erdene), who lives between two worlds — falling in love with a girl and studying hard at school, while balancing his community responsibility as a shaman.
The inspiration for the story came from a crisis P.Lkhagvadulam experienced in her twenties, when she felt depressed and burdened. Believing that juggling multiple jobs was to blame — including as a teacher of film history and directing at the Mongolian School of Film, Radio and Television — her mother took her to meet a shaman who, to P.Lkhagvadulam’s surprise, turned out to be younger than herself with a tattoo and an earring. She initially found it difficult to put the two together, but began to understand herself through this encounter.
‘City Of Wind’ was among the first recipients of the new Mongolian film support fund, which aims to facilitate Mongolian filmmakers in international collaborations. The film became a six-country co-production between France, Mongolia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Qatar. Brussels-based Best Friend Forever handles international sales. Locarno was also crucial in putting Mongolian cinema on the world map when it was included as a focus territory in the Swiss film festival’s Open Doors industry programme.
Filming began in October last year, exactly a year after her short Snow In September. Both titles were shot in Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, and in between the two shoots she became a mother for the first time.