As Mongolia has been pulled further into the orbit of China’s economic might, it has transformed from an agrarian society into an increasingly industrialised and urban one. For Mongolians, new jobs, especially those at the intersection of energy and mining, can represent an opportunity to provide financial security and education for the next generation. But, as The Lady of the Gobi (2022) explores, it’s a bargain that comes with many tradeoffs.
In the film, the Mongolian filmmaker Khoroldorj Choijoovanchig takes viewers into the world of Maikhuu Sengee, a Mongolian woman who’s taken on a hardscrabble life on the ‘coal highway’ to China through the sprawling Gobi Desert. For Sengee, trying to provide a better life for her three children means leaving them with her sister in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar as she lives out of her coal truck. Far from home, she faces the many hazards, heartbreaks and boredoms of life on the road – difficulties that were exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a portrait of a single life, Choijoovanchig’s panoramic depiction of coal transport across the Gobi alludes to the personal and environmental tolls of the region’s recent economic transformation.
Director: Khoroldorj Choijoovanchig
Producers: Tessa Louise-Salomé, Chantal Perrin
Website: Guardian Documentaries
Edward Hopper came of age with cinema. As an artist, he left a lasting mark on it
The ancient world
What did the Rosetta Stone’s inscription actually communicate?
The cast of ‘misfit toys’ who keep life on an idyllic tourist island afloat
Biography and memoir
What Akiko saw at the centre of the Hiroshima blast, and the indelible mark it left
To understand the limits of human senses, look to the wild world of animal cognition
Design and fashion
From sheep to sea – an ode to the iconic sweater that warms Cornish sailors
The revolutionary artist who propelled the Black Panther movement with imagery
The ancient world
Sappho’s homoerotic poetry was beloved in ancient Greece – and burned centuries later
Human rights and justice
Beyond ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ – could a range of verdict options be more just?