Film

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Film Summary

Magsar and Ankhaa raise their children and reindeer in a remote valley in northern Mongolia. The winters are long and they work hard to secure a future for their families. Thanks to them, the new generation now has a choice: stay on the Great White Steppe and take over the herd, or leave for an uncertain future elsewhere, probably in the city.
The choice is theirs. Magsar and Ankhaa know this and will respect their individual decisions.

Film Synopsis

Chloe rescues and trains wild horses in New Zealand. In her quest to understand and document traditional husbandry practices, she has developed a close relationship with a family of Mongolian reindeer herders from the Dukha ethnic group. She has visited them many times, but never in winter, when temperatures drop so low that the family has to split up. The mother, Ankhaa, stays in the valley so the children can go to school. The father, Magsar, takes the reindeer to higher altitudes where they can still feed on lichen, almost safe from wolves.

This year, Ankhaa and Magsar insisted that Chloe spend part of the winter with them. Accompanied by Dominique, a film-maker friend, she arrived at the winter camp on the back of a reindeer. Huddled around the stove in the camp’s only tent, two different visions of the world collide. On the one hand, there is the fascination and unease of Westerners witnessing this disappearing nomadic way of life. On the other hand, there are the herders. Tied to modernity with satellite phones, solar panels and chainsaws, they are baffled by the infernal circus of tourists who visit them.

But in winter, stereotypes quickly dissolve into the gestures of common survival. Melting snow, eating and sleeping in a crowded teepee at -30°C, washing dishes in the snow, and so on. In the face of winter and the threat of wolves, only the essential remains: the affection of parents for their children and the universal bond between animal and human societies as they merge their destinies in an unforgiving environment.

Magsar and Ankhaa are working hard to secure a future for their family’s future. Thanks to them, the children now have a choice: stay on the Great White Steppe, or leave for an uncertain future elsewhere – most likely in the city. From now on, the choice is theirs. Magsar and Ankhaa know this and will respect their individual decisions.

A 50-minute film in English and Mongolian with subtitles and an original soundtrack by Marco Rosano.

Chloe Phillips-Harris

Horse trainer & writer