IN THE DUSK
In The Dusk is the first Mongolian short film directed by female Mongolian director Zhuolan. It’s a story about her home culture: grassland, horses, and the ideal of the circle, as well as Shamanism, an ancient belief that is disappearing with the advance of modern medical treatment.
Inclusion StatementAll actors are Mongolian who grew up on grassland and speak Mongolian as their mother tongue. They are all familiar with Mongolian Shamanism and feel strongly connected to it as it decays. Their religious belief speaks for their unique relationship with nature, which is rare elsewhere.
About The Project
The project started in winter 2018, when Zhuolan the director, Shuang the screenwriter, Joyce and Xueyan the producers, met at a cafe in Manhattan for Zhuolan’s first short film planned to be filmed in Inner Mongolia, her homeland.
It took eight months and ten drafts for us to get to the script that we felt ready for production: a story about an elder Shaman who loses her grandson after years of curing people through Shamanism. As a Mongolian grown up in the city, Zhuolan first learned about Shamanism in high school. Since then, she has been haunted by Shamanism's unique view of life and death, especially for Shaman's mix identity as a woman, a doctor, and a religious figure.
In June 2019, Zhuolan brought the script to her family in Hohhot for translation and rewrite in Mongolian. In order to learn more about Shamanism, Zhuolan met a real Shaman and witnessed her entire ritual process. She was shocked to see how the Shaman immersed herself into the scene and tried to talk to the "Sky", which is our mother nature, instead of a God. Zhuolan then flew back to her hometown West Ujimqin Banner in Xilin Gol for casting and location scout. There, she reconnected with many family friends and met more new friends, who offered to help our project and most importantly, localize it to make it more authentic to Mongolian culture. It attracted the attention of renowned Mongolian actress Tangad Borkhuu, who offered to play our main character. Meanwhile, the producing team managed to get a team of film school students and industrial professionals who are willing to work on the project with almost no pay.
The filming started on August 5th. Because of the remote location, we rented all equipment from Beijing and drove eight hours to West Ujimqin Banner, and each day we needed to travel at least an hour to our sets in the grassland. Yet everyone was amazed by the land we got to film on: the view, the river, the sheep, the horizon, the horses, and of course, the Mongolian Ger that our production design team dedicatedly built. Thanks to our veteran art director, who was from West Ujimqin and had done many films and televisions set on the Mongolian grassland, we managed to create an interior that satisfied all the rules of Shamanism within three days. Herdsmen from the neighborhood offered their belongings from candles and thermos to saddles and duvet, so we could build a set that speaks for their daily life.
The entire filming took five days. We had rains, thunderstorms, and beautiful sunsets that are all became a part of the film. There was no electricity on set and our generator was too loud for the sound mixer to catch the irreplaceable environmental sound during late-night talks. Then our gaffer did the gorgeous lighting all with led lights, the first time in his long career.
From the development stage, the creative team had been looking for ways to present the unique relationship between Mongolian people and nature. Unlike other fast-developing areas in China and other parts of the world, nature is still an inseparable part of Mongolians’ life. There are still many Mongolians live on the grassland, with their sheep, cows, and horses. During our filming, the entire team got to experience it on set. Our Mongolian friends could tell us when it would start raining by looking at the moving clouds and they never got it wrong. We cherish this special experience we had on the grassland and wish to share it with everyone.
Now the film is in the middle of post-production. We want to deliver the best version of this film so all the hard work from our cast, crew and local support can be paid off. A higher post-production budget will be a huge help for us in coloring, sound editing, and mixing, as well as subtitle translation. Though we’ve had a talented post-production team, we still need to rent proper studios and other necessary equipment. Since the film is in Mongolian, we’ll need additional subtitles in French, Chinese, and English to start our festival runs, and hiring experts to translate the beauty of the actors’ mother tongue would define our audience’s perception of the story.
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About This Team
Zhuolan the Director
Zhuolan is a director from Inner Mongolia, China. She finished her B.S. in Oceanography at Tongji University and earned an M.A. in Cinema Studies from NYU Tisch. Growing up in a Mongolian family, she has a deep passion for nature and its connection with human beings, especially in ways of how people’s affection and emotions are implicitly yet greatly formed and influenced by nature. That is the locus that bonds her pursuits in both natural science and cinema. Besides her interest in visual storytelling, she is also fascinated by the sound of nature, the soundscape of breezes and the waves, human sensual eulogies and dance-steps, and this can probably explain her 4 years of being a local rock n roll band vocal. Now as a film director, Zhuolan wants to dedicate her works to present more stories of people of different identities in East Asia to the world.
Joyce Yueyi Xing the Producer
Joyce Yueyi Xing is a young filmmaker from Hangzhou, China, She started her pursuit of arts since middle school, and graduated from UCLA in 2017, with a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Film, Television and Digital Media. During her college years, Joyce spent most of her time in CFan Chinese Theater Group, exploring her potential as a storyteller. Meanwhile, she worked as a freelance writer for several advertising agencies. In her junior year, Joyce made up her mind to become a filmmaker. She then interned in several film distribution and production companies in the U.S. and China. Joyce is a current Film Creative Producing MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts and an Intern at Zeitgeist Films and The Population. She has written, directed, and/or produced several short films shooting in the U.S. and China, and has three feature film scripts that are currently in development.
XueYan Hu the Producer
XueYan Hu is a producer from Singapore. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore and a masters’ degree in Cinema Studies from NYU Tisch. During her undergraduate years, she formed a strong interest in the movie business and has thus come to the US to pursue her passion. She has a strong interest in marrying art and commerce, and hopes to produce films that can help global audiences understand the multifacetedness of Chinese and global culture.
Shuang Liang the Screenwriter
Shuang Liang is a writer from Nanjing, China. She studied playwriting at Nanjing University and Cinema Studies at NYU. She is interested in everything. She has been involved in several productions and would like to be part of more.