Live From UB Exclusive: The Beatles Monument

Here’s another exclusive clip from the upcoming documentary! In this clip, several veteran Mongolian rockers and rock fans discuss the importance of The Beatles on Mongolian youth at a time when the West was out of reach. What seems at first like an odd monument to The Beatles in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, is actually a unique way to remember that special period of Mongolian history.

Live From UB Exclusive

Well, I’m in the throngs of editing “Live From UB”. The sad truth about editing nearly a hundred hours of footage down to less than 2 is that a lot of material just won’t make the cut.

With that in mind, I’ll be posting clips that may or may not be in the final piece throughout the editing process.

Here are two from a day I spent at Amarbayasgalant Monastery with the band Mohanik as they recorded their album.

THANK YOU!!!

Indiegogo-ThankYou

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Thanks to all of you who contributed to LIVE FROM UB’s Indiegogo Fundraising campaign! Your support will make the post-production of this documentary possible!

As they say on Marketplace, let’s do the numbers…

Fundraising Goal: $7500

Total Raised: $9389

Number of Contributors: 169

The money raised from this campaign will go toward hiring translators, assistant editors, colorists, sound designers, graphic designers and more!

This project has been made possible by the kindness of strangers from the very beginning. The generosity of sharing time and information new Mongolian friends and foreigners interested in Mongolia carried me through the research and filming phases. It means a lot to know that there is still a community invested in getting the word out about Mongolian rock!

So, Stay Tuned…

YAY!!!

Yay

We did it! Thanks to everyone who so generously contributed to the Indiegogo campaign for LIVE FROM UB.

Your support has been overwhelming and truly inspiring. As of now 136 of you contributed a total of $7,578 ($78 more than my goal) with 20 days still left in the campaign!

But it’s not over yet.

We have 20 more days to make this an even bigger success than it already is. Please continue to spread the word about this exciting project. The more people this campaign reaches, the BETTER!

And thanks again!

HELP FUND LIVE FROM UB

Remember all of those posts I was writing from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia over the past year or so? Well, the final product of all that research and filming is an hour-long documentary called LIVE FROM UB.

I have all the footage and the story, but I need a little extra help to support the editing and post-production process.

I’ve launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to raise funds and awareness about the project. You can check it out here

I am looking for finishing funds to cover the cost of:

Translator, Editor & Assistant Editor, Colorist (to make the colors match), Sound Mixer, Graphics Designer, DVDs and Printing, Press Kit, Festival Entrance Fees, Administrative Costs, Website, Film Insurance

But I’m also hoping to get the word out about this really exciting project. Please tell your friends and fellow Mongolia/Travel/Documentary buffs to check it out!

MORE ABOUT THE FILM:

LIVE FROM UB takes viewers into the small but vibrant rock scene in Mongolia’s capitol, Ulaanbaatar (also called ‘UB’). In 1990 Mongolian’s demanded a new government. Tired of the restrictive lifestyle of their Soviet system, they protested throughout the winter until, at last, their demands were heard and a democratic government and free economy were granted. Throughout their struggles, rock music was there. It was the sound of a new generation and the beat of democracy. Now, over twenty years later, the first generation to grow up in this new society is making their own music. But, unlike Mongolia’s rock pioneers, they have full access to the outside world. They grew up on MTV. They download music in instants. They travel to Korea and China to buy equipment. But this new generation, with the world at their fingertips, is also searching for something much deeper – their true identity. The music they produce is proof of the new urban Mongolian – Eastern and Western, Ancient and Modern, Nationalist and Global Citizen. Through the lens of a few of these bands and interviews with experts, LIVE FROM UB explores what it means to be Mongolian today and how that’s shown through music.

Khovsgol Province: Shamanism

Shamanism is a an ancient spiritual tradition practiced throughout Mongolia. People who follow shamanism believe that nature and humans are connected in a deeply spiritual way. The shaman is the link between those worlds and acts as a conduit for people to reach beyond. According to the Lonely Planet, “two of a shaman’s main functions are to cure sickness caused by the soul straying, and to accompany souls of the dead to the other world.”

While witnessing a shaman ceremony is a special event, signs of the spiritual tradition are throughout Mongolia. Ovoos (sacred piles of stones) are scattered across the countryside as indicators of respect for nature. They are typically built at noteworthy locations as a sign of respect to the natural realm. When one passes an ovoo, he or she  must circle it three times and toss a stone onto the pile as an offering. Others might offer horse skulls, vodka bottles, or even tires.

Recently, Mongolia has seen a resurgence of Shamanism as many young people are becoming shamans. However, some believe a number of these new converts are “tourist shamans”, people who will perform the ceremony as a show for a fee.

Last August, I traveled to Khovsgol Province with the Vanishing Cultures Project to meet one of the country’s most well-respected shamans. She was kind enough to invite us to a ceremony, which she also allowed me to film.

This is the second in a series of three videos from Khovsgol Province. They were produced in partnership with the Vanishing Cultures Project.

Watch more videos from Khovsgol:

Khovsgol Province: Herding Life

Khovsgol Province: Herding Life

Last August, I spent a week with the Vanishing Cultures Project co-leaders Taylor Weidman and Nina Wegner in Mongolia’s northern province of Khovsgol. We were documenting the herding lifestyle for their upcoming book, “Mongolia’s Nomads: Life on the Steppe”. I had the privilege to tag along on their research journey as a filmmaker.

Over the course of the week, we stayed with two different herding families, visited with one of the country’s most powerful shamans, and I filmed a behind-the-scenes look at the work Taylor and Nina do with Vanishing Cultures Project. Two months later, I’ve finally been able to sit down and finish these short films!

Here’s the first of the three, a profile of two different herders living in Khovsgol Province:

 

Continue reading

Happy Naadam: Horse Racing

One of my favorite parts of the Naadam celebration in Uugtaal last week was the way the small jockeys (aged between 5 and 12 years old) would sing to their horses before each race.

This particular Naadam had 6 races. Each race varied in length depending on the age of the horse. The shortest distance was about 6 miles, while the longest was 14. And so several times over the course of the two-day long event, a group of between 15 and 40 children would ride their horses into the main stadium singing the ‘Glingoo’. It’s a free-form kind of song that is meant to encourage the horses to run quickly.

After riding around the inside edge of the arena, the riders would gather at the front where they would drink airag (fermented mare’s milk) and pour some on their horses’ heads and hind quarters. Singing once again, they would exit the stadium and trot toward the starting line.

Horses are an essential part of Mongolian culture and the traditional lifestyle. They are veneered and used for everything from transportation to nourishment. But until I saw how the children interact with horses, I didn’t quite understand just how much a part of life they are. Dozens of young boys casually rode their horses around the grounds, showed off by doing tricks, squirted water guns at their friends and even shared ice cream cones. It was clear that if you were an 11 year old boy without a horse, you were just not cool.

Watch a video about the horse race:

Read and Watch More about the Naadam events of Wrestling and Archery.

These videos were produced in partnership with the Vanishing Cultures Project.

Happy Naadam: Archery and Shagai

Saihan Naadaarai! Happy Naadam!

Today (July 11) is the first of the annual three-day long celebration of Naadam. It is a sporting and cultural event that dates back to the 13th Century, a time when the three ‘manly sports’ of horse racing, wrestling, and archery were vital to Mongolia’s global dominance.

Although the national Naadam celebrations started today, county-wide and province-wide competitions and festivals have been occurring around the country since the beginning of July.

Having already attended the Naadam celebrations in Ulaanbaatar back in 2007, I was curious to see how it was celebrated on a more intimate scale.

Last week, I traveled to Uutgaal, a small county seat just 150 km from Ulaanbaatar, with fellow documentarians Nina and Taylor of the Vanishing Cultures Project and Mark of Open Road Movies. We spent two days watching horse races, wrestling matches, archery and the newly added game of Shagai (ankle bones). As the only foreigners and journalists at this Naadam, we were granted excellent access to the roughly 400 participants, organizers, and spectators.

Here are the first two in a series of four videos highlighting each of the four main events.

Read and Watch More about the Naadam events of Horse Racing and Wrestling.

These videos were produced in partnership with the Vanishing Cultures Project.

Video: NisNis Fest 2012

Two weeks ago, Mongolian grunge band Nisvanis held their 16th Anniversary concert. They invited ten bands to perform at the showcase, ranging from metal to rock to indie to folk rock.

I recorded four of the bands at the show: Nisvanis, Mohanik, North Ducks, and Altan Urag.

Nisvanis:

Although they usually play plugged in and amped up, Nisvanis opened the show with an acoustic set. It was nice to hear some of the tunes I’ve heard before in a different way. It actually helped me appreciate the band more as musicians and songwriters.

Altan Urag:

Altan Urag is a staple of the Mongolian music scene. They’re the first Mongolian band to be signed with a major American record label (BMI) and they regularly tour abroad. They’re seen twice a week at one of the larger restaurants in town – but, like other bands who perform in bars/restaurants regularly, they have to play the same songs every time. It was refreshing to hear something a little different at NisNis Fest. It was also fun to see their fans banging their heads and dancing to Altan Urag’s version of traditional Mongolian music.

North Ducks:

North Ducks are fairly new to the UB music scene. They represent a younger generation of artists, weened on alternative rock and influenced by indie bands.

Mohanik:

Last, but not least, Mohanik has been around for a few years now. The five members, who are friends from grade school, are now putting together their second album – which they say is more of a concept. They’re returning their gaze toward Mongolia and writing songs inspired by nature, but in a way that is very rock and roll.