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 Jiang is an ethnic Manchurian filmmaker born and raised in Inner Mongolia, China. Her works explore themes of femininity, animals, nature, and mysticism in the Inner Mongolian and global context. In 2020, she received her BFA summa cum laude in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a finalist for Sundance Ignite X Adobe Fellow.
Her latest narrative short "Graveyard of Horses"(2022) was officially selected for prestigious festivals such as FIAPF-accredited A category film festival Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and SXSW(South by Southwest) Film Festival, and won NETPAC Award at the Busan International Short Film Festival and Bronze Dinosaur Award at Etiuda&Anima International Film Festival.
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.