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[🇬🇧] Öndög by Wang Quan’an : In the Mongolian Steppe…

A complete cinematic experience. The kind of movie perfectly suited for a festival. I was so grateful for the size of the screen so I could be submerged by the visual experience of this film. It was also a very welcome emotional Xanax after the labor of the first 3 films… This one didn’t even have an abused child in it… 

Stop now if you don’t want to know more.

I’d expect the life of a herdwoman in the Mongolian steppe to be quite different from mine. And this movie makes it very clear very early that this will be an immersive experience and it won’t indulge in superfluous explanations to ease in folks like me. What I mean is the film makes all of his points with the bare minimum of exposition, preferring to give us time to be with his characters rather than trying to explain them to us.  And the truth is you can’t resist those images, the shots still live in my mind, days after, movie after movie can’t seem to supplant its evocative power over me.

I got out thinking of small things I liked about Öndög, but after spending time with its memory I realize how deep my appreciation runs.
So deep I don’t really want to write too much about it… I just want to encourage anyone willing to take in that experience for themselves… This unwillingness to explicit my thoughts has actually stalled my coverage of the festival and I now have to force something out just so the rest can get out as well… So I’ll play the impressionist game and will just allude to random things now… paying hommage to the film without actually having to articulate criticism.

In the Mongolian steppe sheep gets butchered in the sweetest possible way… never thought I would stomach such a view… just as the very graphic birth of a calf… both manifestations of a life much closer to nature than I am used to, both shown in full length by our guide Wang Quan’an. Don’t know what his point is… but I was moved instead of grossed out.

In the Mongolian steppe, our heroine may travel on a camel, yet she pulls out a cell phone out of her thick coat to ask her neighbor for help butchering sheep.

In the Mongolian steppe, a young police officer might have to spend the night next to a dead body until the proper authorities can come pick them up… yet in this far away land he listens to #LoveMeTender by Elvis Presley to pass the time… some things ARE universal….

And however remote this world may seem, the herdwoman still has access to a quick pregnancy test and is offered the option of a quick and painless abortion if she should desire it… It makes you think about what we consider modern, or necessary, or unseemly… This film with all its beauty and art is also quite simply like a sobering, paradigm shifting, revigorating trip, that make us reconsider the simplest aspects of our routines. Of course it is also a tale of love and strength and the badassery of a woman, who is not only remarkable cause she is the only person who owns a rifle in the span of 100km, but because she seems to chose every aspect of her life according to her will and desires only…

As much as I appreciate the portrayals of struggling women in this competition, I’m glad I also get to have her… and unfaltering representation of female strength with no mention of trauma, anger or violence… except for the wolf I guess…

Photo en Une : Dulamjav Enkhtaivan dans Öndög de Wang Quan’an. Mongolie. 2019. Section : Compétition. © Wang Quan’an

Yaële, tombée à 5 ans dans les séries, à 10 dans les screwball comédies américaines, à 14 dans "Loïs & Clark" a vu toutes ses passions se conflagrer violemment à 18 ans avec la découverte de "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", l’œuvre qui allait dominer sa vie adulte. Devenue aujourd'hui Geek professionnelle (pour justifier sa consommation astronomique d’œuvres de culture populaire), elle aime réfléchir aux interactions entre la fiction et le monde dans les pages de magazines pour aficionados, sur la scène de Comic Con Paris, dans des conférences de sériephiles ou dans son podcast Parlons Pop et Parlons Bien. Dans sa seconde vie, elle écrit des scénarios et est consultante en écriture de série.

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