ACF Asian Cinema Fund

Script Development Fund

2023 Script Development Fund

LIST To Kill a Mongolian Horse
Category Asian Project
Project To Kill a Mongolian Horse
Director JIANG Xiaoxuan
Country China
Director's Profile 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 context. In 2020, she received her BFA summa cum laude in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her latest narrative short "Graveyard of Horses" was officially selected for FIAPF-accredited A category film festival Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, SXSW(South by South West) Film Festival, Busan International Short Film Festival, IN THE PALACE International Short Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, NOWNESS Short Film Talent Awards, and won Bronze Dinosaur Award at Etiuda&Anima International Film Festival.
On the vast steppes bordering China and Mongolia, Sayna, a skilled, 32-year-old, Mongolian horseman, tends his family ranch during the day and performs daring feats on horseback at a local horse show at night. In contrast to the majestic, Mongolian cavalryman he portrays at night for the tourists, Sayna finds his real life as a herder under increasing threat.

The implementation of a local grazing ban has caused immense hardship for the herders, forcing them to sell their livestock and abandon their traditional way of life on the steppes. Many herders have resorted to selling their horses to slaughterhouses. Adding to Sayna′s challenges, his alcoholic father recently sold half of their flock of sheep to settle his debts, and his young son from a previous marriage needs money for his education at a Mandarin school.

As Sayna confronts the impending loss of his livelihood and searches for a way to secure his future, and that of his horses, he discovers the combined impact of the grazing ban and local mining activities forcing him towards irreversible exile from his cherished land.
Director's Note
Last year, my friend Sayna, a herder in Inner Mongolia, sold his flock of sheep because of a local grazing ban and started to seek other jobs to plug that financial gap. For months he performed tricks on horseback at a local horse show, where he played a Mongolian cavalryman.
Through this film, I aim to explore the power dynamics between spectators and spectacles, particularly in the mainstream media′s obsession with spectacle as seen in tourism, social media, and other contemporary cultural phenomena. I want to contrast this fetishization with the marginalized existence of Mongolian herders caught between the cultural border of Mongolian and Han Chinese communities, the conflict between pastoralism and industrialization, and the gap between traditional and pop culture.