The secrets of a young shaman

The secrets of a young shaman

In her exciting first feature film, Mongolian filmmaker Lkhagvadulam Pure-Ochir features a 17-year-old shaman whose love at first sight for a young girl his age turns certainties upside down. Encounter.

How was the idea ofA Ia shaman ?

Ten years ago, when I was in my twenties, my mother took me to see a young shaman and I experienced exactly what we see in the film. I discovered, once the ritual was over, that the shaman in question, who I thought was experienced, was in fact a young man my age, tattooed from head to toe. The very one next to whom I had spent a good ten minutes without speaking after having shared an incredible closeness with him and before discovering who he was. This contrast made me want to tell this story

Have you had the desire to create for a long time?

Yes because I can say that cinema has shaped who I have become. Thanks to the American, Chinese, Japanese and Bollywood films that I was able to access in theaters in Mongolia in the 90s. Because our country was by far the most open, the most modern in that part of the world, the less dominated by religious rules. I can therefore say that cinema was for me a way of understanding the world, of also freeing myself from certain aspects of Asian culture, starting with the fact that you should never show your emotions. This was amplified by spending six years in Ohio where my father had gone to work and where I spent my time devouring films on DVD. By seeing films, I understood that we had the right to express this that we felt.

Which ones particularly struck you?

The first shock was undoubtedly A Streetcar Named Desire and especially the character of Blanche with whom I have continued to identify for years. This film is among the top of the pile of those that made me want to study cinema, directing in Turkey then screenwriting at the KinoEyes European Filmmaking Masters school in 2018. It was during these training years of 'elsewhere that I began to really develop the project ofA young shaman. And at the end of my studies, I already had a first finished version. One of my teachers assured me that it would take me 5 years to know if the project was going to succeed or not. And that’s exactly the time that separated the day of this exchange and the premiere of the film!

What formed the backbone of your writing?

Without hesitation, the love story. Be careful, this is not what I experienced with the young shaman I mentioned earlier! (laughs) But when I started writing, I was really very in love myself and I naturally wanted the awakening of the outside world of my young hero, his way of discovering the one he is really emotionally going through a racing heart for a young woman of her age.

As a movie buff, did you have any references in mind for this film?

Not really. At least not consciously. But it turns out that at the end of the first week, I had a major moment of anxiety, a real crisis. I found that I was going into the wall. And there, I rewatched the first episode of Decalogue by Kieslowski, whom I admire and it unlocked everything in me. In my opinion, The Decalogue as a whole is like a beacon in the night. I find my answers to my questions there

How did you find the fascinating interpreter of the title role, Tergel Bold-Erdene?

There was a long audition process. Three candidates ended up emerging but none of them satisfied me because each had only part of what I was looking for. So, in desperation, I called one of my friends who was making a series and as an SOS, I asked her if she knew anyone between 17 and 19 years old, without necessarily any experience who could meet my desire. And she sent me the photo of Tergel who was part of the image team for her film. I was immediately hooked, I asked him to come and audition the next day. And within half an hour, I knew it was him!

Why ?

Because he was the only one of all the teenagers I had seen who gave me access to his emotions. Something very rare in Mongolia where men are asked not to show anything, to keep everything to themselves. From then on, even though he had never acted, my only real job as an actor's director was to gain his trust so that he would never close down. I never gave him the script to read. I only told him during the auditions what his character was going to go through and then I gave him the scenes to learn the day before for the next day. Which was possible since his role involves his silences and his gaze, not through long monologues. And I also relied on his partner Nomin-Erdene Ariunbyamba who is a professional actress to redirect him during the scenes. I admit I even put pressure on him by telling him that if in the end he played badly, it was because she would have done a bad job! (laughs) But she was on top and so was he

Do you already have a second feature film in mind?

Yes, I started writing it. But before that, I'm going to shoot a short film. To continue practicing and not lose control

A young shaman. From Lkhagvadulam Pure- Ochir. With Tergel Bold- Erdene, Nomin- Erdene Ariunbyamba… Duration: 1h43. Released April 24, 2024

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