These are examples of some of the films set in the independent republic of Mongolia since the 1920s or in the ‘autonomous prefecture’ of Inner Mongolia within the PRC since the late 1940s. Most were produced by studios within Mongolia or Inner Mongolia. The early films set in Mongolia were produced with Russian or Soviet support, and most mainstream films and dramas from Inner Mongolia have been made within the Chinese state system of film production.
Mongolia was a part of the Qing empire until the collapse of the dynasty in 1911, when it declared independence under the leadership of the Jebtsundampa Khutuktu (1870-1924), the highest lama in the country. After victory by socialist forces, the country was renamed as the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) in 1924 and came under extensive influence from the Soviet Union. This led to the closure of all monasteries and, in the mid-1930s, under orders from Stalin, the mass execution of thousands of lamas and intellectuals. In 1945, the MPR achieved formal recognition from China and from the western powers. In 1990, the socialist state was replaced by a democratic system. The first cinema was opened in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, in 1925, showing Soviet films, until the MPR established its own film studio, Mongol Kino, in 1935. It produced 52 feature films over the next thirty five years.
Inner Mongolia remained part of China after the fall of the Qing empire. The eastern areas were affected by the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in the 1930s, which led to the establishment of the Japanese puppet-state of Manchukuo. In 1947, following the defeat of the Japanese, the Communist Party took over the Inner Mongolian areas and declared it an autonomous region under their control, and it became part of the People’s Republic in 1949. A film studio was established in Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR), in 1958, but it was used mostly for dubbing Chinese-language films until 1979. Since then it has produced a number of feature films, some with Mongolian themes, including Tian Zhuangzhuang’s On the Hunting Ground (Lie chang zhasa, 1984) and at least three films about the life of Genghis Khan.