马冢"Graveyard of Horses"(2022)
Narrative Short Film.
Country of Production: China, USA
Running Time: 16'56''
It’s winter on the Mongolian steppe, an unexpected snowstorm aggravated the living conditions of a pregnant herder and her 8-year-old daughter: a missing herd of sheep, the unborn child, the absent husband, traces of wolves……everything drives the mother and daughter to places they’ve never been……
WRITER&DIRECTOR Xiaoxuan Jiang
STARRING Tana & Angara
PRODUCER Zhulin Mo
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Hailong Zhang & Saina
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Yuang Liu
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Tao Qiu
PRODUCTION DESIGNER Jiaxing Yu
EDITOR Zale Zheng
SOUND DESIGNER Junyi He
MUSIC Yixin Huang
Xiaoxuan Jiang 姜晓萱
Xiaoxuan(Amanda) Jiang is a filmmaker born and raised in Inner Mongolia, China. She received her BFA in Film&Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In the past years, she worked for Tribeca Film Institute, Institute of Documentary Films(Czech Republic), and The American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival.
Her 2017 short experimental film “Reality·R£@617¥” won in film festivals globally, including European Cinematography Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Festigious Film Festival, Largo Film Awards, and Hollywood Film Competition. Her 2019 short "Three Walnuts" was recently selected into Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival’s film market.
Last winter, on my way to visit a herder family in their ranch, I saw a dead horse not far from the road.
It was a mare that died after a miscarriage; her half-formed foal lay stiffly beside her. I could imagine the mare’s desperate struggles having to face birth and death at the same time all by herself.
That moment struck me profoundly and made me wonder if females across species may share something deeper than they knew. With that image deeply ingrained in my mind ever since, I was inspired to write a story that explores the relationship between femininity, animals, nature, and mysticism.
The film was shot on the remote steppe bordering China and Mongolia during the coldest days of November and December 2021. The coldest day of shooting was approximately -27 Degree Celsius(with the harsh wind and the flat steppe, the temperature felt even colder).
Both of the female leads are local herders who are non-professional actors(Tanan is a professional Mongolian-styled singer). In the film, I used their real names as the names of the character.
The majority of the producing team consists of my local herder friends who know the steppe and its resources more than anyone else in the world. We acquired the shooting location for free, because the house is a deserted old house that belongs to one of my herder friends.
The animals were provided and coordinated by my herder friends as well. No animals were harmed for the purpose of the film.
Because of the unpredictability of the weather, we divided the shooting into two parts and, during the second part of the shooting(when we shot the majority of the exterior scenes), we had only 6 people in the crew.
The film wouldn't be possible without the support of my local friends. Their names are listed on the special thanks list in the end of the film credit.