The history of world cinematography was considered to begin towards the end of 19th century. In Mongolia, film was unveiled since 1903. Mr. G. Renchinsambuu, famous scholar and art critic, commented that the films were staged at the Bogd Khan’s Palace in which 8th Jevtzun Damba, the last king of Mongolia, who was natively from Tibet watched films. Namnansuren, the Good Prince was also fond of movies.

People’s revolution was defeated in Mon-golia in 1921 and the communist government agreed to develope cine-matography and showcasing business. Thereafter the 1st documentary “47th Anniversary of May” was made and premiered in the history of Mongolian cinematography when the movie factory was established in 1935. Mongol Huu (Mongol Guy) the 1st talkie feature film was made and released in 1936. Mongol-Soviet co-productions were released with assistance of Soviet film scholars and teachers from the beginning of Mongolian movie industry during 1935-1945 year. National film industry specialist and stuffs started getting film education at the Moscow Federation Cinema University in Soviet Union. Later, most of graduates emerged as famous directors and cameramen of Mongolia. It is recognized that mongolian cinematography has great influence of Russian training and  the same technique of making movies.

According to the research materials, 174 feature films were brought out by 35 mm between 1935 -1990. After 1990s new films were released but not registered.

The Mongolian public was entirely shocked and was not ready for the unexpected changes that has abruptly started i.e. transferring from planned economy to market economy as democratic movement had been happenning throughout the country and communist regime had been irrev-ocably discharged. The planned eco-nomy that was administered by comminist party fell into decline. All cultural branches that was subsidised in the other former communist countries were declined as well. So was movie industry. Since then independent filmmakers have an enormous right to create, produce and freely publish their products. The quality of the Mongolian films went worse and number of audience decreased because of the non professional filmmakers. Collapse of professional studios and great number of mushrooming of post production emerged yet more number of films were made than ever.

From the beginning of 1990s video saloon and video showing business was going very well and foreign films got very popular among mongolian audience, especially Hollywood films and it influenced mongolian film market directly. This process influenced not only Mongolia but the other countries by different times of the period. 7-8 feature films, about 30 documentaries and 50 films were made in 1980s. Although the number of films was increased over the years, the quality of films still went down. The 35mm film was stopped being made by the end of 1990s.

Nowdays, 35mm film is available among Mongolian filmmakers but young filmmakers usually make it by video format because of its low budget. This process is the same everywhere in the world and it causes enormous economic possibilties. By the last few years foreign films makers visited Mongolia to make films of all genres. For example, documentaries such as “About Mongolia” was with Julia Roberts, “Country of Dog” was co-directed by Peter,a belgian producer and Turmunkh in 1998, “The Story of Weeping Camel” was directed by Mongolian and Italian directors in 2004, “Chinggis Khan ”the documentary was directed and produced by BBC in summer 2005 and “Yellow Dog in Hell” was directed by Byambasuren and was awarded in International film festivals. Korea, China, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Austria, Italy, German and France- filmmakers from all these countries are doing research work on Mongolia and started shooting documentaries and historical feature film about “Chinggis Khaan”. Local filmmakers, actors and actresses have more possibilities to make money by acting in these films and also learning to use latest technology from foreign colleagues and get some equipments and accessories on rent. Mongolia and the Chinggis Khan are attractive themes for foreign and local filmmakers. There is a hope that someone might make a big budgeted historical feature film about “Chinggis Khan” in Mongolia some day. It has to be mentioned that Mongolia has good opportunity to attract foreign filmmakers for low cost, security, nomadic lifestyle, good nature and extreme weather in four seasons. 

Mongolia has opened “Dolby” movie theatre that has three halls showing the latest famous films for local audience. Mongolia provides good opportunity for using modern digital technology to make films and attracts world famous film manufacturers, investment and cooperation to make films for the international film market. 

I finally say that prospects of Mongolian cinematography has bright future.

Erdenechuluun Zorigt

Born in 13 February 1968. Graduated from the University of  Moscow in 1991. Vice president of the Mongolian & Korean joint company “Ulaanbaatar Cinema” LLC.  President of the “New Century” Mongolian Film Association. Based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.