Documentary: Genghis Heroes
About fifteen years ago my middle school history teacher handed out a reading list. We were to read one of the books on the list (I read more than that, of course), and write a report on it. That report would be due at the end of the year. I picked one called 'Sons of the Steppe'. It told the story of Kublai and Arik-buka, two grandsons of Genghis Khan. It was a children's book of sorts, so it didn't go too deep, but it was my introduction to a new culture that I quickly fell in love with. Past the political elements, this was a story of a people who were part of the land and whose animals were as important as family.
Later, I picked up another book titled 'Mongol Journeys', in which the author travels Mongolia in the early twentieth century with the goal of learning what it is to be Mongolian. Maybe the author was trying to be a modern Marco Polo. There are certainly worse things to aspire to. This painted a new picture of a people holding tightly to tradition and identity, not all that different from those shown in the thirteenth century. And again, it was a picture I was happy to see. The difference is that in this modern image, that traditional culture is being eroded away by global and economic pressures.
Today I'm excited to get started on a new editing project that brings me a little closer to those traditions. We've taken on post production work for a documentary titled 'Genghis Heroes'. This documentary follows two children competing in horse racing during the Naadam, a national festival in Mongolia. This festival celebrates, among other things, the three 'manly' (and traditional) activities: wrestling, archery and horse racing. The jockeys are children, usually under nine, who have spent their lives on horseback.
Nick Aquilino and Bya Chuluunbaatar spent a few years producing this work, and telling this story. We look forward to helping bring it to light. You can learn more about Genghis Heroes here: http://genghisheroes.com/, and more about the Naadam here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naadam. We'll be sharing additional material on this exciting project as we move forward.