Western-style pop and rock first began appearing on the streets of Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar in the 1970s, but attempts by local musicians to create a sound along similar lines were initially compromised under the communist regime. Following the country’s break from the Soviet Union in 1991, music provided new means of expression for its first generation to grow up in a democratic society. With local audiences limited by Mongolia’s relatively small population, local bands began developing their own distinctive voices, exploring such issues as cultural and national identity and their place in a globalised world while integrating traditional methods of instrumentation such as overtone singing and horse-head fiddle-playing into their music.
The film explores the small but vibrant rock scene in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar (also called ‘UB’). It blends the story of one band creating original Mongolian rock with interviews from experts and Mongolian rock legends. Rock was a catalyst in the democratic revolution of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now, more than twenty years later, the first generation to grow up in this new society is making its own music. Unlike the generation before them, the new music makers grew up watching MTV and can access music from anywhere in the world in an instant. But these young Mongolians are defying the forces of globalization and using modern music to both explore and assert their own unique heritage. Like Mongolia at large, they are eager to be recognized beyond their borders, but without sacrificing their identity.
About The Project (By Lauren Knapp)
I was first drawn to Mongolia in 2007, while living in China. Along with a few friends, I took an overnight train from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar for a 3 week-long trek. I was not prepared for what I found. Mongolia is a place like none other. Culturally, Mongolia is far from its neighbors, China and Russia. The landscape and can-do-anything attitude in the countryside give it a Wild West feel. The face of Ghengis Khan is everywhere – from vodka bottles to an enormous metal statue. And the music is evocative of the ancient and vast land. When I left Mongolia, having barely scratched the surface, I knew that it would call me back one day.
It wasn’t until almost five years later that I was able to return. I began working on LIVE FROM UB in the winter of 2011. With the support of a Fulbright-mtvU grant, I moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and immersed myself in the music scene. I spent the next 10 months meeting musicians, learning Mongolian language, attending concerts, and filming dozens of interviews with Mongolia’s top performers.
While I was a one-man band in Mongolia (videographer, producer, director, and editor), I was not alone. Countless people helped me throughout my project. I’d like to offer a special thanks to those who volunteered their time to translate, operate a second camera, and organize interviews in the Land of the Blue Sky.
When I returned to the United States in September of 2012, I began the long process of weeding through my 3TB of footage and crafting it into what has become the documentary film, LIVE FROMUB. I’m grateful to the many people who helped me throughout this post-production process, especially my community in Pittsburgh, PA.
About The Filmmaker
Lauren Knapp is a multimedia storyteller. With an academic background in anthropology and a professional background in journalism. She uses the documentary medium to merge both worlds.
After graduating from Grinnell College in 2006, Lauren spent a year teaching in Nanjing, China as Grinnell Corps Fellow. It was there that she discovered her passion for media while volunteering for a Chinese (English language) television show. Upon her return to the United States, she began working at the PBS NewsHour where she honed her skills as a journalist and was inducted into the demanding and dynamic world of television journalism. She was one of the first Reporters on staff to film, edit and produce her own videos – now common at the PBS NewsHour.
With a love for music, urge to focus on a long-term project, and keen interest in Mongolia (a place she briefly visited in 2007), she left Washington, DC for Ulaanbaatar in late 2011 with the support of a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship. She later wished she’d timed her visit to start after the most brutal months of winter.
ISABELLE STROLLO, Assistant Editor
Isabelle Strollo is a picture editor and motion graphics artist for film and television based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since 2008 She is an adjunct faculty at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where she teaches film editing and production as well as broadcast graphics. She began her career as a camera assistant, working on productions for the White House Historical Society and National Geographic Television, as well as a host of commercial production companies. As an editor, She has worked on a variety of documentaries, narratives and educational projects.
DULGUUN BAYASGALAN, Associate Producer/Translator
With a degree in Art History from the University of British Columbia, Dulguun is keen on advancing the arts, especially film, in Mongolia. He discovered his love for music at an early age and has since extended his passions to literature and film. With an urge to create and promote the arts, Dulguun is currently working on a number of films and art-related projects.
FERNANDA ROSSI, Story Editor
Whether in a personal session, a workshop or through her writing, Fernanda Rossi supports and guides filmmakers with proven methodologies in the creation and improvement of rough cuts, fundraising trailers, synopses, treatments, scripts and pitches. She has doctored over 300 documentaries, fiction scripts and work samples, including two Academy Award®nominees.
This film has been funded in part by:
- Fulbright mtv-U Fellowship
- Pittsburgh Filmmakers First Works Grant
- The Pittsburgh Foundation
- Over 168 individual donors via Indiegogo
Kazakhstan’s official Academy Award entry to open the Asia House Film Festival 2016
Asia House is delighted to announce the full programme of the Asia House Film Festival 2016, once again generously supported by Prudential plc. This year’s theme of ‘Breaking Boundaries’ will be reflected in the diverse programme of 19 films, which include five European and six UK premieres. All of the films will be shown in London for the first time.
The Festival, now in its eighth year, will take place from 22 February to 5 March, and includes 11 feature films, three documentaries and five short films coming out of countries including Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Jasper Sharp, the Festival’s Artistic Director, said: “The films selected as part of the 2016 programme represent a world in which culture, politics and economies are transcending national boundaries. There will be a number of films from countries often completely overlooked by followers of Asian cinema, giving audiences a chance to experience the lives and landscapes of such a dynamic and multi-faceted continent.”
Opening the 2016 Festival at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho will be Yermek Tursunov’s 2015 film Stranger (Zhat), Kazakhstan’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards. A beautifully shot outdoors epic set in 1930s Kazakhstan, the film charts one man’s search for freedom set against the historical backdrop of the country’s darkest years. Tursunov and the film’s producer, Kanat Torebay, will host a Q&A session following the screening.
Thursday 25 February will see the Festival move to the iconic recently reopened Regent Street Cinema for the European premiere of Tursunov’s latest film Little Brother (Kenzhe). A sleek, contemporary hitman thriller, Little Brother sees brother pitted against brother, casting a cynical eye on where Kazakhstan is heading. Tursunov will participate in a director Q&A after this screening.
The Festival will continue at the Regent Street Cinema, hosting the European premiere of Korean-American director Benson Lee’s 2015 film Seoul Searching on 27 February. A romantic teen comedy set in the mid-1980s, the film features a group of diverse Korean high-schoolers from around the world who come together at a summer camp in Seoul to learn about their Korean heritage. Featuring a soundtrack of the era’s most fondly remembered tunes, the film goes beyond nostalgia to present a witty portrait of national, social and ethnic identity.
Chinese director Zhang Wei will join audiences at the Regent Street Cinema on 26 February for the European premiere of his gripping drama Factory Boss. The film presents an engrossing depiction of the ‘Made in China’ hallmark, delving deep into the country’s manufacturing culture from the perspectives of the workers and the executive suite. The film’s lead actor, Yao Anlian, won the Best Actor Award at the 2014 Montréal Film Festival.
Japanese director Shunji Iwai’s 2015 anime film The Case of Hana and Alice will be screened at the Regent Street Cinema on 27 February. A gently comedic prequel to Iwai’s 2004 live-action film Hana and Alice, the film sees two schoolgirls investigate an urban myth surrounding a mysteriously vanished former classmate. The film appears to be traditional Japanese anime, however it was shot using real actors and sets, then put through a digital rotoscope process (a form of retracing live-action footage).
Five short films will be screened across the Festival. French filmmaker Marc Johnson’s ultra-high definition 4K projection Yúyú will be shown at the opening night gala at the Ham Yard Hotel. A 2014 short With Time from Saudi filmmaker Malak Quota, depicting two sisters locked in a room, living their lives indulging in fantasies, will be shown on 27 February. Drama, a 2014 short from director Tian Guan and Panchagavya, a 2015 short documentary about the unique position of cows in India, will be screened on 27 and 28 February respectively. How to Cross (from Jiliz to Jiliz), a 2014 Armenian short film, will have its UK premiere on 28 February.
The Festival will close on 5 March with a special retrospective of films from 1960s and 70s Singapore at The Cinema Museum, Kennington. Each of the films chosen provides a fascinating insight into how Singapore is and was perceived by the rest of the world before and after the colonial era, tracing Western filmmakers’ encounters with the country’s rapidly changing culture and landscape.