N. Orgil: Mongolia needs to pay very close attention and help the struggling film industry


One of the few arts that are not supported by the Government is the film industry. Speaking to young, middle and older Mongolian generations in the film industry, they are still hopefully waiting for strategic support from the Government.
The following interview is with N. Orgil, Director at the Arts Strategy Implementation Department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; translated from Undesnii Shuudan Newspaper.

-What were you doing before being assigned to your new position?
-I was about to go back into my creative work. I had taken a 2 – 3 year break from it, and when I was about to return to it again I received the offer to work in this position.
-What creative work are you into?
-I majored in acting. So I thought I would return to filming and acting, or other jobs in those areas.
-Were you really planning on taking a job with so much responsibility?
-Truthfully, I was not planning on it. Minister Oyungerel called me and made me the offer when I was traveling in the countryside. At that time I thought that I needed some time to make the decision.
What I was thinking was that in any art, such as filming, a specific supportive strategy from the State was desperately needed. Previously, I did not care about this as much because my works are largely independent. But sometimes, I would think about it. The countries with an advanced filming industry are doing pretty good, but they are different. I think the other countries acknowledged the importance of their filming industries.
I asked myself why isn’t the Mongolian filming industry growing, and what don’t we understand?
I used to tell my friends that we cannot leave an industry as important as filming behind. I believed that if we did not take good care of the quality of our arts and filming, we would not have any “face” in the world, and it reflect the lack of strategies all around Mongolia. I took on this job because although I wanted to pursue my own personal interests in filming, I wanted to contribute to my country with what I can offer. I knew if I did not take this offer I would have regretted it.
-Certain people tend to understand that Ministry and Administration Officials are the people who go around and give awards and honors to others. This is mostly because of the way they are interpreted through the media. Have you ever thought of working at a Ministry, or a Government body?
-The previous director was a man around my age, Naranzun. He is the son of Badar-Uugan, I know him well. He and I even went to schools that are right next to each other. When he became the director at the Arts Strategy Department, I was glad that a like-minded man is in this position to make a difference in the sector, and was also happy that younger men like him were being appointed to such high positions as this. But I myself never had thought of doing that myself, nor had I thought of what changes or improvements were necessary in that sector.
I agree with what you said, we are used to seeing overweight 40-something year old men in positions like these giving Awards and Honors, especially during Socialist Times. But Naranzun is very different, he is a composer, producer and he earned his education abroad.
-When you first took on the job, what tasks greeted you?
-This is not an old Ministry, but a new one. This best strategic decision that the new Government made is the establishment of the new Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. When Ibegan working at the new Ministry, we had both older projects started by our previous Government and many new ones as well.
Our current operation is focused on improving and recommending amendments to laws that govern culturally significant artifacts, strengthen the Government’s responsibility and accountability, and improving repair and museum operations. We also need to make sure of the take care of their new building;otherwise Mongolia will not have any additional places to display its artifacts. With the 850th Anniversary of Chinggis Khaan’sBirth, we had to do many things in a very short time. They are successfully being carried out at this time.
We have exhibitions, concerts, and many marketing operations still in progess.
-May I ask you something about a recent criticism made by the media on the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism?
-Yes of course.
-The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism provided the funding for the Russian ballet that recently performed at the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Certain journalists have criticized this, saying that only a few people, namely politicians, attended the ballet with the public’s tax money. What would you say on this?
-The Ministry did not fund all the costs. We only provided a fraction. When a 20-person team of ballet dancers arrived from Russia, we were responsible for their food and lodging. We did not even pay for their transportation. The distance between the theatre and their hotel was so close that I think they simply walked.
Most of the costs were covered by the Russian Ministry of Arts and the Embassy of Russia, meaning the tax money of Russian people.
To look at it another way, this event was a benchmark in Mongolian history of arts. Classic arts we know today were taught by Russians. It is significant and very important for Mongolian arts to have professional, high-level ballet dancers to come and perform in Mongolia. I asked why the tickets were not sold publicly – the reason is that there are separate agreements or protocols between Mongolian and Russian embassies.
This year sees the 100th year anniversary of Mongolia-Russian friendly diplomatic relationship. Ballet was one of the events that were included in the celebration. For example, we also had famous singers from Novosibirsk come and sing in Mongolia, too.
-The previous director or the person who held your position before said that renovations and changes are needed to the two theatres and were moderately criticized by media for saying that. What is your opinion on this?
-That is right. Look at the National History Museum, according to inspectors that building should be condemned. Renovations and repairs are neededbecause the building is ready to collapse at any moment. The Drama and Opera Theatres are the same condition, since they are just as old. They all must be renovated. But when we do that, we have the choice to keep its current exterior appearance.
Or, a new building with the exact same exterior should be built. If the State has the budget, I will vote for that. I think someday the arts and creativity of this country will grow. We are working hard on this. We are preparing to introduce the issues we have to the Parliament. I am travelling and visiting theatre, ballet and museums to collect data; to recommend improvements; or any other related information that may assist presenting our problems to the Parliament. I have visited Film Production, but sadly it has become a Film Production Museum.
-Is Film Production still under the State’s authority?
-Yes, I think so. They are listed under “State-owned Production Facilities.”But they are self-funded. Within current structure, it falls under our Ministry. The Film Production was not privatized.
There are numerous pubs, bars and clubs all around the National Academic Drama Theatre. There are also many businesses and buildings, that sell alcohol and other items in the Bogd Museum. This policy needs to be changed.
Somebody built an apartment building inside the restricted area of Choijin Lam Museum. We need to stop this practice. If we destroy our arts we do not have a future. We will not have any Mongolian culture, history and arts to teach to our children, and let them feel the pride of Mongolian history and culture and show to other countries. If our chests are in the dark and our heads are empty, there would be no use, even if we have all the money in the world. I am cautious that maybe one day we are suddenly under the influence in control of another country.
We really need additional policies from the Government.
-I think it is right to ask something on one specific topic. What are your plans for the forgotten and very weak film industry?
-There are a lot of expectations from the new Government. This is a correct assumption. As for us, we made changes to the law on historical artifacts from the beginning. The next step is, as you have said, is addressing the film industry. We really need to pay close attention and help this struggling industry, it has been neglected for 20 years, left alone as if it is, it should be expected to go on its own. I say that to grow our economy, we need more small and medium enterprises and to improve our infrastructure, just like building railroads. Arts are just as important an important infrastructure as the others. Especially the filming industry is just another development. In this regard, we need to understand the filming sector. I am planning to propose a draft law for films and movies.
-Do other countries with highly developed filming industry have laws affecting the film industry?
-Yes. Other countries are just like that. Films can only develop and flourish if they have laws. It would mean that the Government is paying attention to films and related arts. Also, a film production authority should be established in Mongolia.
-You mean establish something like the old Film Production?
-Yes, but on a different scale. For example, it could be located outside the city limits and named the Center for Film Production.
-How can filmmakers work at a place like that?
-They should work however they see fit, they should have all the freedom they need. We would provide with the correct environment and the infrastructure. They will be able to film and record there. The singers can make their music videos there. Filmmakers, producers and singers from the US would come here and film. The reason is that Mongolia’s nature is extraordinary, has four seasons and lighting is perfect.
Right now, there is a large film studio in construction in Australia. In Korea, private companies and the Government are cooperating and Australia and Korea are taking two to three different approaches. There can be much different management created, like the industry returning to the Government its initial funding after a few years of operation. My idea is to implement things like these in Mongolia.
-Countries tend to express their beliefs and culture through their movies. I don’t think Mongolia is able to do that yet. What is your opinion?
-In any country, arts and culture is one of the most important “weapon” in foreign affairs. But arts of filming have special duties. Large exhibitions are included in this too.
One example is,“Saving Private Ryan,” a World War II movie by Steven Spielberg. It is a great movie; it earned many awards at the American Academy Awards. It is true that Americans fought in World War II. But the Russians viewed that they needed to make a film just as good as Saving Private Ryan. I think people would understand why they reached this conclusion. So they made a World War II film based on a USD 50 million budget.
Just like these, countries express their views in their movies, supported by Government strategy. But Mongolia’s strategy was to refuse to deal the people who offer EUR10 million with the intention to make a movie based on Chinggis Khaan.

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Posted by on Nov 23 2012. Filed under Топ мэдээ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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