A Pearl in the Forest


a film by Director Enkhtaivan Agvaantseren

The Film

This film is one of the first films aimed at retracing the history of the different ethnic groups that compose Mongolia. It is also one of the first films that openly speaks of the events of the 1930’s and the impact of the rise of Soviet communism on Mongolia. It was shot on location, in the same region where these events took place (in the Khentii province, north-eastern Mongolia); and the participation of many actors and extras from the Buryat village of Dadal has greatly added to the authenticity of the film.

The testimony of the events that marked the Buryats in these difficult times was also a subject very dear to the heart of Director Agvaantseren Enkhtaivan, because they occurred in his native region. The outcome is a very strong and a poignant story with a human dimension, and an essential and authentic film that underscores the struggle of these characters overtaken by events much larger than themselves.

Is all fair when love becomes war?

“Promises are like pie crusts: Made to be broken”.

In the 1930s Stalin put Lenin’s words into action with his infamous “purges,” bringing horrors to the people of Mongolia - a geographically unified nation that he broke up with the shattering fist of political force. Highslide JS In the midst of a Mongolian Buryat village Sendem is a young woman who has the curse of great beauty during this time of violent upheaval. Markhaa is the former villager who now returns to his hometown as a government informant.

Although Sendem is already engaged to another, Markhaa is determined to use the power of his government authority to crush a village in order to take by force what he cannot win by love: the heart of Sendem. A tender blossom snapped from a tree and crushed underfoot, Sendem focuses her hope on the symbol of a hand-carved necklace once given to her by her fiancé ... and in a treasure more precious than a shimmering pearl, that she leaves behind in the shelter of a dark Mongolian forest.

Historical Events

In 1923, the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed and included the Baikal province (Pribaykalskaya guberniya) with a Russian population. In 1937, in an effort to disperse Buryats, Stalin's government separated a number of counties (raions) from the Buryat-Mongol ASSR and formed Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Aga Buryat Autonomous Okrug; at the same time, some raions with Buryat populations were left out.

Fearing Buryat nationalism, Joseph Stalin had more than 10,000 Buryats killed. In Mongolia, since 1930, it is estimated that over 51,000 people were assasinated after being wrongly accused. 43,000 of them were shot, and 8,000 were emprisoned for life. In the Dadal region of the Khentii province alone, 86% of the men were killed. These people must not be forgotten.

"...Our sorrow from these memories Your shattered lives will be in our hearts forever The flag of freedom bows for you Your nation will remember you forever..."

The Buryats

The Buryats or Buriyads, numbering approximately 436,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia and are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic, a federal subject of Russia. They are the northernmost major Mongol group. The Buryat Republic, the southern part of the territory of East Siberia, is situated in the region between northern Mongolia and Lake Baikal.

The name "Buriyat" is mentioned for the first time in the Secret History of the Mongols (1240). When the Russians expanded into Transbaikalia (eastern Siberia) in the mid-17th century, they found only a small core of tribal groups speaking a dialect called Buryat. Buryats, the indigenous people of this territory are people of Mongolian language, physical type and cultural tradition; who are the descendents of the Turkic-Tungusic tribes who formerly inhabited the Transbaikal area before the spread of the Mongols Buryats share many customs with their Mongolian cousins, including nomadic herding and erecting yurts for shelter. Today, the majority of Buryats live in and around Ulan Ude, the capital of the republic, although many live more traditionally in the countryside. Their language is called Buryat, and is closely related to Mongol. Many Buryats use both Tibetan and Mongol as literary languages.

After Buryatia was incorporated into Russia, it was exposed to two traditions. Buryats west of Lake Baikal and Olkhon (Irkut Buryats), are more "russified", and they soon abandoned nomadism for agriculture, especially during the socialist collectivization and industrialization. They also became sedentary and replaced their yurts with permanent wooden structure houses which are typical for Russians throughout Siberia. Lamanistic (Tibetan) Buddhism is the primary religion, but shamanism is common in western areas of the Buryat region. A native religion called Burkhanism also exists. A handful of Buryats have become Russian Orthodox Christians. Buryats live not only in the boundaries of the Republic of Buryatia but also in the ethnical autonomous districts (okrug) of Chita and Irkutsk administrative provinces (oblast) within the Russian Federation.

Large numbers of Buryats (about 28,000) live in the Mongolian Republic, mostly in the districts which border on Russia (Khentii aimag). About 20,000 Buryats live in the People's Republic of China in the region of Barga in Manchuria.

Some of these have settled or were sent there in the eighteenth century and others are Buryats who emigrated from the Soviet Union after the revolution and Civil War.


Trailer and Clips