Official selection Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard 2023
Production: Amygdala Films & Urban Factory
Johanni Curtet is a musician, ethnomusicologist, producer and artistic director of Routes Nomades. For 20 years, he has been practicing and studying khöömii - Mongolian overtone singing - experimenting it through various creations. Several records of his production have been released by Buda musique: Tserendavaa & Tsogtgerel (2008), An Anthology of Mongolian Khöömii (2017), Khusugtun (2020), Batsükh Dorj (2023), as well as creations of his trio Meïkhâneh. With this soundtrack, Johanni signs a double premiere, a film score and a record in his name.
This film is a cry from the heart for Mongolia perceived through the harsh daily life of a family in Ulaanbaatar: the abandoned yurt neighborhoods, the daily fight to survive the winter, the pollution of the coldest capital in the world, the question of equal opportunities, but also social issues such as the rural exodus and the gap between the nomadic presence and urban planning. Beyond the problems, Ulzii, the main character, embodies a great hope which pervades the entire story.
The overtone voice is the continuity of this path of hope strewn with doubts that Ulzii follows, but also reminds his region of origin, Altai. Like his life, the instrumentarium is simple: guitar, doshpuluur lute, morin khuur fiddle, double bass, jaw harps and beatbox; just like their way of playing. This music is at the same time minimal, cheerful, soft or angry, repetitive to the point of stubbornness, like the moods that pass through the questions of this teenager who is trying to make it. It refers to Mongolian identity to become universal. The pentatonic modes rub shoulders with dissonances or blues, while seeking sometimes the rhythms from other nomadic cultures. Meanwhile, the discreet harmonic presence is everywhere.
Johanni Curtet: composition, beatbox, khöömii, throat singing, guitar, doshpuluur lute, jaw harps, carillon
Mandakhjargal Daansuren: morin khuur fiddle, khöömii, throat singing
Kham Meslien: double bass
Recorded and mixed by Bob Coke