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Question of the day

Posted at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2006 by Euan Kerr

Today's question raised by the 2006 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival: where can Nansal Batchuluun go from here?

At six years old she has played the lead role in a movie which has delighted audiences around the world. Of course, in "The Cave of the Yellow Dog" she is playing herself, as are her younger sister, brother and parents.

"Cave" is the new feature by Mongolian writer and director Byambasuren Davaa, who scored a hit a couple of years back with "The Story of the Weeping Camel."

That film was described as a narrative documentary. Again with "Cave" Davaa tells her story using the people she finds on her travels. Nansal and her family are nomadic sheepherders who live an isolated existance in a traditional yurt during the summer grazing season. They play a family described in a short story by Gantuya Lhagva, weaving the narrative into their everyday lives.

It's hard to imagine many Western six-year-olds taking on a script like this. But Nansal is a natural, delivering her lines unself-consciously, simply being herself on the windswept Mongolian steppe.

The story tells of what happens when she finds a young dog and tries to convince her parents that she should keep it. The real story is how the family works to survive in a beautiful but at times hostile environment. It's a delightful piece of cinema.

One side note: the festival screened this movie at 9pm on Saturday night, possibly hoping to build on the large audience drawn by "Dreaming Lhasa" which ran before it. Sadly there was only about 75 people in the audience, which seems a shame for a movie which really could be of interest to an audience of any age who could handle the subtitles. The film screens again tomorrow night at 5 at the Edina.

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