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
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