TIFF ’23: City of Wind

From director, Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, City of Wind follows Ze, a seventeen-year-old shaman in Mongolia who manages his responsibilities as shaman, a student, and a son really well until he falls in love. Now, he finds himself having new desires that interfere with his duty as shaman of the community. It is a coming-of-age story where you realize that Ze has been given a huge responsibility, but underneath all that, he really is just a kid.

City of Wind was one of the last-minute additions to my TIFF schedule. I was drawn to the theme of desire vs duty and was curious to see how Purev-Ochir would explore it in her film as I too often feel overwhelmed thinking about all the things I feel like I ‘have to be’ as a Christian. I went into this film waiting for the tension within the character, where he is torn about what path to follow, thinking that it would maybe help me make sense of my own feelings… but that moment never came. Instead, what we get is a character who just lives. That’s all he’s doing in this film, living. Even during the times when it seemed like he had become too ‘worldly’ to be spiritual again, he just… went back. There was no pacing, no beating himself up, no questioning whether his life had been altered forever. Purev-Ochir was present at the screening and mentioned that she excluded the tension intentionally because she didn’t want to portray Ze as having to pick between being a shaman, or a spiritual Mongolian, and being a teenager. He was both.

The film also deals with modernisation vs. tradition, which are tied to desire vs. duty for Ze. Although he’s a shaman in the rural area, he likes to go to the store and look at nice things and hopes to move into a smart apartment one day. Those two things didn’t cancel each other out, they just were.

At the end of the film, I went ‘ohhh, maybe I’m thinking too much about it.

I just have to keep living.’

City of Wind is now playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.

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