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The Story of the Weeping Camel

Directors: Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni

Topic: Exotic tale of a mother camel in the Gobi Desert who rejects her newborn colt after a difficult birth, and the family of nomads who perform an ancient musical ritual to reunite them.

Financier: HFF-Munich (film school), Bavarian Television, state film funds.

Budget: Many people worked on deferment, so the final figure is still being calculated. “Between a film school and a commercial documentary budget.”

Shooting format: Super 16mm

Why it made the list: An unusually intimate look at everyday life in modern Mongolia, plus a seamless combination of documentary and narrative elements, beautiful cinematography and the universal theme of how parents care for their children.

Memorable scene: The scene of mystical ritual in which the mother camel, surrounded by haunting music and the family of herders, begins to weep large tears as she finally allows her colt to suckle.

Distribution/broadcast status: ThinkFilm released theatrically in July. New Line to release DVD on Jan. 25. Broadcast rights being negotiated.

Box office: $1.8 million at time of publication

On making the film: Davaa, a Mongolian whose grandparents were nomads, told the story of the weeping camel to Falorni, an Italian, when they met as students at Munich Film School. They decided to go to Mongolia and make the film together.

“What surprised me most about the people we worked with was their understanding of what we were after,” said Falorni. “We told them, ‘We want to tell this little story of this ritual, and our wish is to put into this little story a part of your spirit, your approach to life.’ They were extremely pleased with that, so they started really working on the film with us. I was amazed. It was not what I expected of a family of nomads. That tells me that there must be something about storytelling and filmmaking which is also very universal — it doesn’t just belong to Hollywood or the West.”

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