“A young shaman” or how to live your spirituality in the unbridled modernity of Ulaanbaatar

Mongolian director Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir signs with “A Young Shaman” a sensitive and intelligent feature film about a high school student in search of identity, caught between consumerism and faith. “A young shaman”, a subtle and poetic film.

France Télévisions – Culture Editorial


Reading time: 2 min

Scene from the movie "A young shaman" of Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir.  (AURORA FILMS/GURU MEDIA/UMA PEDRA NO SAPATO/VOLYA FILMS/2023)

The film opens with a shamanism session. At the end of the session, the shaman removes his ceremonial headdress and reveals his age. A 17 year old teenager. And from then on the spectator discovers one by one the different masks that young Zé wears, often in spite of himself. A young shaman follows the initiatory journey of a high school student in search of his different identities. Studious and diligent, Zé navigates between spirituality and modernity. His life is like a long, quiet river. He communed with the spirit of his ancestors to help his community and assiduously continued his studies. He lives in a yurt on the outskirts of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. His meeting with Maralaa, a heart defect of his age, shatters his certainties. Zé questions himself, seeks his place in the world. In theaters April 24.

“Spirits are part of nature”

“The film was born from an encounter which is not so different from the one in the film. My mother took me to consult a shaman for a family matter. We arrived late for the ceremony and I didn’t was able to see the shaman before. Later, while I was waiting for my mother, a young man came and sat next to me. He looked very nice, both of his arms were covered in tattoos and he was wearing a buckle. He started playing a game on his phone once we left the house, my mother told me it was the shaman we had just visited. to consult”, confides Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir.

For her first feature film, the Mongolian director set out to follow the journey of Zé and his torments in a Mongolia which struggles to reconcile tradition and modernity. Carried by a Tergel Bold-Erdene who is overwhelmingly authentic, Zé wanders in a spiritual no-man’s land. Fascinated by the gadgets of modern life, he confides to his girlfriend all his admiration for smart homes. “You clap your hands and the light comes on, the shutters… “, Zé marvels. “Who really needs this? Maybe the lazy ones”, Maralaa replies. Through this short dialogue, we can guess the torments of the young shaman. And at high school, he, the calm student, discovers the soul of a rebel. One of the strongest scenes in the film is this collective shift, this spontaneous revolt against authority when the teacher, rigid in her positions, exceeds her prerogatives. There is something saving, something enjoyable, in this reversal of roles.

A young shaman is a subtle film, far from any Manichaeism, from any binary thinking, which questions spirituality and modernity, without necessarily opposing them. It also takes a look at a society in search of benchmarks. A young shaman, a universal poetic work.

Movie poster


Title : A young shaman

Gender : Drama

Realization : Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir

Distribution : Tergel Bold-Erdene, Nomin-Erdene Ariunbyamba

Duration : 1h43

Synopsis: Zé is 17 years old and he is a shaman. He studies hard to succeed in life, while communing with the spirit of his ancestors to help the members of his community in Ulaanbaatar. But when Zé meets young Maralaa, his power wavers for the first time and another reality appears.

Theatrical release: April 24

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