Subject: Sas Carey - Migration documentary screening, July 31, 2018, 5:30 PM, Natsagdorj library


Where: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
When: Tuesday, July 31, 2018, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Director: Sas Carey
Genre: Documentary
Duration: 80 min
Language: Mongolian (with English subtitle)
Ticket: Free


“Reindeer get restless and begin to move on to other pastures. When they start moving, we follow,” explains nomad Tsetsegmaa. 
To the Dukhas of Mongolia, reindeer are the core of their existence. They are ridden, packed with goods, milked, and, when needed, honored and sacrificed for food. Migration travels with the nomads in their annual journey from their spring camp in the taiga forest to their summer camp in the tundra in order to provide rich pasture for the reindeer. When the director observed the loss of a nomadic life in another area of Mongolia, she felt compelled to document the Dukha while they still migrate. In this documentary no directions were given. No action was staged or manipulated. This immersion film preserves the unique lives and lifestyles of reindeer herders just as they exist today.
As the film opens inside an urts or Siberian tipi at the spring camp, the viewer feels transported to a different world, watching like a “fly on the wall”, a more relaxed way of life. Candid conversations are overheard through subtitles; no explanations are provided. The pace is slowed to that of the Dukha community, bringing their age-old traditions to life.
This experiential film shows the traditional aspects of reindeer husbandry, and yet, the viewer will note contemporary goods. A satellite dish, solar panels, televisions, and chainsaws bring this ancient lifestyle into the modern world. The herders still travel on reindeer and use their reindeer for moving modern items as well as their bedding, dishes, wash pans, stoves, and clothing. The most important goal of their lives remains the same as their ancestors: to share their lives with reindeer.
Mongolia is the largest pristine wilderness in the world, with vast landscapes of snowcapped mountains and ice-covered rivers, even in summer. Tuvan music by the Alash Ensemble accompanies the migration—Dukhas, the smallest ethnic group of Mongolia, are of Tuvan descent. The herders’ journey travels through forests and rivers, into valleys and over high mountains studded with slippery lichen-covered rocks. During changes in altitude, the weather ranges from hot to rainy, cold, snowy, and windy as they traverse frozen, snowy, soggy, and muddy landscapes. They travel on their reindeer, known for their ability to travel easily over the extreme terrain.
Dukhas seem lighthearted as they provide for their family’s basic needs in all settings. Whether they are building shelter, making food, carrying water, or finding wood for heating and cooking, families help each other. In the community, men have responsibilities outside the urts—herding, preparing skins, collecting firewood, and hunting. Women work inside of the urts caring for the children, cooking, and sewing. It is also their job to milk the reindeer, carry water, and make milk tea, cheese, and other milk products. The same basic chores need to be carried out whether the herders are in the spring camp, an overnight camp, or the summer camp. Home is wherever they are.
“Migration” flows—there is a sense that moving is like breathing for the Dukha. The journey through harsh and expansive landscape is no deterrent for the strong and resilient herders and their reindeer. This film preserves the lives of one of the few groups still migrating on the planet today. It is an unaltered snapshot of the life of nomads who remain at one with their animals and the land. 
 About Sas Carey: 
As a seeker for the place where earth, spirit, and healing intersect, 
Sas Carey has been searching in Mongolia for over two decades. She is a registered nurse, energy healer, educator, author, and filmmaker. Since her feet first touched Mongolian ground back in 1994, Sas Carey felt there was some reason she was being sent half way around the world to this land. When she returned to Mongolia the next year, she drove up to the home of a nomadic family and thought it looked like a movie set. She was studying traditional Mongolian medicine at the time, and her teacher got out of his Russian jeep to ask directions. Watching him from the car, it seemed as if he were talking to people from another time and place—as if it were by some magic that he could speak to them. A seed for documentation was planted.
Over the following two decades, Carey got to know groups of nomads intimately. In her first documentary, Gobi Women’s Song (2005), she interviewed five women nomads and filmed their lives. With each ensuing visit, fewer and fewer of their families were nomadic. By 2013, all five women had given being nomads.
In northern Mongolia, the reindeer herders are still living the nomadic life. Carey has been drawn to document them and share their light living on the earth. A book, Reindeer Herders in My Heart, was published in 2012.
Documentaries of Mongolian Nomadic Life
Steppe Herbs, Mare's Milk and Jelly Jars: A Journey to Mongolian Medicine. 18 minutes.1996
Gobi Women's Song. 73 minutes. 2006
Taiga Heart Song. 6 minutes. 2007
Ceremony. 45 minutes. 2015
Migration. 80 minutes. 2016
Reindeer Herders in My Heart. 2012
Migration won the Earth's Choice Award (top award) at the world premier at The Earth Day Film Festival in San Francisco and The Best Scientific Documentary at the Parnu Film Festival in Estonia.
As long as there are nomads on our planet, Carey is passionate about sharing their lives. As her not-for-profit Nomadicare says in its mission statement, “Nomadicare supports the sustainability and cultural survival of nomadic peoples by harmonizing traditional and modern medicine and documenting nomadic life ways, lore and heart songs.” Migration brings you into the world of the nomadic Dukha reindeer herders.

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. The ACMS Speaker Series are organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Natsagdorj Library and provides an important platform for researchers engaged in Mongolia to share their experiences and findings with the public. The event promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia and is free and open to the public.

Thank you to the American Corner and the Natsagdorj Library for sponsoring this event!

For more information visit the ACMS website
American Center for Mongolian Studies, 642 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
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