It is quite easy to make the sweeping generalised assumption that the films shown in cinemas across the UK is quite homogenous in that it is overwhelmingly Western content. It’s not very often that one will come across a film created from somewhere that isn’t an American or British studio with English-speaking stars. Anything else tends to be relatively marginalised with a few exceptions including a Western-version of the epic Chinese film Red Cliff, the French classic Amelie and the Italian La Dolce Vita.
It’s a rather unfortunate state of affairs: without being exposed to other cultures through film one can’t hope to learn more about said culture. It certainly doesn’t help matters when some people’s main reason for not watching foreign films tend to be a distaste for subtitles. Despite this, the Asia Film Festival took place this past weekend as a big celebration of films from all across Asia. One of the films it showed was Yellow Colt.
It’s hard to imagine that such a simple yet very wonderfully put-together film was made with a budget of $150,000 considering how most Western films, even independant ones, would cost over a million pounds (except some projects like The Rogue Table). Whilst the surroundings are quite bare and simplistic in Yellow Colt it is very effective and very true to the life of working Mongolian horse labourers. Who needs flash CGI effects or designer clothes to create an effective story? No filmmaker worth their salt would need that although there certainly isn’t anything wrong with wanting it. This film shows, among other things, how effective one can make a film without anything expensive to rely on.
If watching Yellow Colt has shown anything, besides the ability to make a good film without a major budget, it’s that good films exist universally around the world regardless of which culture it comes from. Maybe the Western audience should look outside the box and seek out non-Westernised films.
Asia House will be screening Mongolian Treasures on the 19th of April.