The following is an interview with state honored director Kh.Damdin, who directed “Red Flag”, “Camp’s Friends” and “Unforgettable Autumn”.
How many years have you been teaching at the Institute of Radio and Television? Have there been changes among the graduates?
I have been teaching since 1994. It has been eight years since I’ve been teaching at the Institute of Radio and Television at the Mongolian University of Art and Culture. In the 1990s students weren’t interested in art and culture work, but my most recent students are really creative and have become very active readers. Unfortunately, state policy is not so appropriate.
So, in your opinion, what must the state policy be?
They often change the textbooks and follow foreign educational systems. They should teach what the deel is and how to make yogurt beginning in primary school.
Films play an important role in nurturing children. But why aren’t Mongolian directors directing children’s movies?
The reason is they can’t make profits from them and there aren’t any sponsors who will invest their money in unprofitable businesses. Making these kinds of movies is not an easy job, and to make a children’s movie directors must know children’s psychology.
What kind of lessons do you want to teach children through your films?
Humanity. Modern children and youth are really lacking in friendly character and respecting their elders. I really want children to be loving and know their great history and culture. Presenting salacious Korean and U.S. blood-and-guts movies will have a significant negative impact on children’s mindsets.
We have great folktales. Don’t we make movies from them?
Yes. We have really nice folktales with good endings, but it is not cost effective to make fairytale clothes and environments. The Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism has made very important progress on the development of archeological science. I wish to pay attention to it.
Are you honest with your students who are untalented but try very hard?
It is really hard to say such things in this society. Not everyone has perfect talent. There are lots of people who have hidden talents. Only being hardworking is really important to reveal their talents.
Have you ever written reviews?
I used to write reviews before. When we point out someone’s disadvantages and mistakes, they consider it slander. Moreover, when publishing reviews in the newspaper, people consider it a bad movie and their interest in watching a certain movie may decline. Honestly, they have to read the review and watch the movie too. Consequently, they should make their own conclusions on whether or not the review was true or false.
Why don’t we get fed up with watching old movies again and again?
Because Mongolian custom and character are still felt from these movies and their main ideas do not go out of date.
How much difference is there between movies recorded on film or digital format?
Using modern technology is the same as little children trying to make a movie. A movie that is recorded on celluloid is high quality and can be kept for a long time. We are able to watch the world’s first movie which was made in 1895.
Have you ever worked with the directors Dorjpalam and Buntar?
I was a cameraman when I worked with them. I used to just observe what they were doing. I had not graduated from director’s university yet, and I learned many things from them.
Did you dream of becoming a movie director?
I never thought about working in theatre. When I was a little, “Chapayev”, “Roots of Chinggis” and “Post of the Border” used to be present a lot. My motivation to become a director started from seeing a man who was directing people. At that time, cinematic art seemed very interesting and I decided to become director.
Have you ever made a movie based on an idea from your life?
Yes. “Camp’s Friends” is based on my childhood.
Could you share some memories that have not ever been shared?
A while back, some talented and intelligent guys started becoming drinkers. When they became successful, their friends celebrated a lot and made them fond of vodka. I made my movie “Life’s Bud” from this situation. There is a scene about sawing down a tree. At that time, in order to saw down the tree, we needed permission. When we gave our request to the administration of Darkhan, they gave us permission. But the trees we chose were too big to move with a Zil 130, so we cut two trees and planted new ones in Erdenet.
Is there anything that you haven’t been able to achieve?
I have many things that I want to do. We waste 20 years becoming an adult. After I reached 40 I realized this. I wish to publish what I am thinking about in a newspaper or journal. At least I would like to train very good artists to work in the film industry of Mongolia. For this, I am teaching now.