David Knight - 22nd Feb 2019

After two previous collaborations with Ali John Meredith-Lacey, aka Novo Amor, directing duo Sil Van Der Woerd & Jorik Dozy have now completed a stunning double music video-short film for the Welsh artist, shot in Mongolia among the country's dwindling nomadic community of reindeer herders, The Tsaatan - now existentially threatened by the impact of climate change. 

The story, told with outstanding filmmaking skill by Sil and Jorik - who recently signed to Park Village for UK representation - follows a miner's desperate attempt to keep his daughter alive, by taking her out of the smoke-choked city of Ulaanbaater, to find a shamen who can save her. That journey leads to them both into the wilderness, becoming lost, and then being saved by a reindeer-riding member of The Tsaatan.

As the first part of the story, for Sleepless, ends with a sense of hope, Van Der Woerd and Dozy tackle the full extent of the environmental disaster unfolding in Mongolia, and particularly for the Tsaatan, in the second part. In Repeat Until Death, the father and daughter discover that there is no hiding place from the effects of air pollution and climate change, even in the uncharted wilderness, as the Tsaatan and their animals suffer from the changing habitat.

For all the beauty of how this is put together, the wonderful drone-shot landscapes throughout the whole piece, this is a sobering, bleak warning of the natural and human cost of unchecked industrialization. It also forms part of a greater body of work, which deals with different different aspects of the same devastating issue: their video for Terraform, shot in a sulphur volcano in Indonesia; then with Birthplace, their extraordinary prop whale made of plastic bags and rubbish created for the completely underwater-shot video in Bali.    

For this project, the Dutch directing duo spent 20 days in Mongolia, navigating extreme conditions. They travelled from the city of Ulaanbaatar and the Nalaikh coal mine, to the most Northern region of the country. Limited road infrastructure and the Tsaatan tribe’s secluded location meant even their 4x4 jeep struggled to get the crew across bumpy dirt tracks for days at a time.

Ulaanbaatar’s intense pollution occurs in winter, when temperatures drop well below -35 degrees Celsius. With strong wind intensifying the cold, the crew could only be outside for a maximum of 15-minutes. This extreme weather presented challenges not only physically for the crew and cast, but also for the equipment. The team overcame issues with the drones such as signal loss and malfunctioning landing gear. All of the gear, which was touch-screen-only, had to be gradually acclimatised between internal and external settings, as they would immediately condense.

But even with those extraordinary challenges, the resulting film is remarkable, poignant - and ultimately, properly terrifying. 

SIL & JORIK: 

The Tsaatan, like all Mongolians, are very kind and very toughened people. They welcomed us in their homes and even gave up their beds.

“After filming inside a sulphur emitting volcano (Terraform) and underwater with a 13m prop whale in the ocean (Birthplace), we convinced Ali (Novo Amor) to film his latest videos in Mongolia, where we wanted to capture the country's abundant beauty and its pressing environmental issues.

"Filming at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius has been the most challenging thing we have done to date. As directors, we’re always hoping to encounter an artist who is willing to take a risk and to trust us. Ali is this artist. Ali's music is awe-inspiring and working with him has been a true blessing since day one.

"The Tsaatan, like all Mongolians, are very kind and very toughened people. They welcomed us in their homes and even gave up their beds. The Tsaatan live an exceptionally tough life. There was no running water in the camp so our Mongolian crew cut big blocks of ice from the nearby lake to drink as teas and soups. Whether it was a runaway deer, an intense snow blizzard, or leaving the camp in a rush due to temperatures about to plummet to about -45 degrees Celsius, we constantly had to adapt our script and schedule.

"Besides these challenges, there were also plenty of magical moments, such as the arrival of the herd of reindeer each afternoon from the forest, the zero-light pollution at night revealing the milky way, the stunning twilight, the reindeer willing to endlessly lick your hand, and the laughter coming from the tent of our Mongolian crew each night.”

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorSil & Jorik
DirectorJorik Dozy
DirectorSil Van Der Woerd
ProducerSean Lin
Director of PhotographyNicholas Chin
Focus PullerSkaiste Kazragyte
EditorSil & Jorik
ColouristKeidrych Wasley
CommissionerDave Grinnell
Production CompanyNew Frontier Pictures
Other creditsLine Production Company: Horizon Quest LLC Line Producer: Byambadorj Altankhuyag Line Co-Producer: Miyegombo Alexander Production Coordinator: Bujinlkham Myagmarjav CG Generalist: Alex Scollay 3D Modelling: Horia Trandafir Animation: Khet Yee Sang Match Move: Goran Kocov Matte Painting: Jorik Dozy Compositing: Nicholas Caillier Paint & Comp: Senye Onn Sound Design: Selle Sellink Music: 'Sleepless', '06 13494' And 'Repeat Until Death' By Novo Amor Record Label: Dave Grinnell • All Points Thanks To: Leire Zabala Arrieta

David Knight - 22nd Feb 2019

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