The Last Mongolian Horseman

The Life of a Shepherd Family in four seasons

  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 57 minutes 2 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 18, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - ALAIFU

ALAIFU grew up in Inner Mongolia, China, documentary film director, art director. After graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 he worked as an art designer at Film Studios in Beijing and later an art student and freelance artist in New York since 1989. He now lives between Beijing and Hohhot. As a Mongolian filmmaker he believes to document the survival of his own race in modern China is always the priority. Thus his artworks are all focused on recording the life and images of Inner Mongolian people. In 2011-2013, He produced a TV documentary "The Hunsendak Family," which aired on Mongolian-language TV channels and gained attention. He then devoted his entire time and money on the production of documentary film "The Last Mongolia Horseman," which took 9 years to complete. Now he wishes to present the film to his beloved people.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In the late 1980s, I came to the United States, a beautiful country where I fully enjoyed freedom and order. In my daily interactions, people would always ask: Are you Chinese? At first I didn't pay much attention to this, but as time went by, I found out that my ethnicity should be Mongolian. When I introduced myself again, I would say I am Mongolian. At that time, people would always mention our ancestor Genghis Khan. Since then, I began to pay attention to my own culture and the grassland.

After returning to China, my apartment in Hohhot was in a residential complex that had yards for the bottom floor apartments. Most families used the yards for their gardens, but my neighbour who moved from the grasslands, used their yard to keep their three sheep. I knew enough of the culture by this point to recognize that this was not just a cultural difference but that this family kept their sheep for deeper reasons than to provide the milk needed to produce the staples of their diet. Keeping their sheep was a reminder to them, and a message to others, that they are Mongolian and cannot be displaced from that identity.

It made me realize that for thousands of years, the vast wind-swept grasslands of Inner Mongolia have been home to nomadic herdsmen, the rich resources that lie under these rolling prairies have proved a curse to the people who have long called this land their home. A boom in mining and mineral industries has polluted the current grasslands, marginalized herders and pushed them from their homes.

By documenting the ordinary life of a herder family deep in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, I want to show the rise and fall of grassland culture in Inner Mongolia today, the erosion of traditional Mongolian culture in Inner Mongolia, and the confinement of nomadic life.

Through the relationship between man and nature, man and animals, and man and man, I show the objective status and dilemma of the Inner Mongolian grassland today. The degradation of the grassland ecological environment and sand, as well as industrialization, urbanization and other phenomena, objectively reveal the inner world of Inner Mongolia grassland herders today and my worries about the grassland ecological environment and the future development of national culture.