When you picture Mongolia, you probably think of the traditional herders and nomads.
Filmmaker and former Nelsonite Benj Binks wanted to challenge that view. In 2006, he brought a film crew to the Central-Asian country to interview budding hip hop artists and find out what it means to be a young Mongolian today.
The result is the feature-length documentary Mongolian Bling, which has its Canadian premiere tonight in Toronto and will be sceened in Nelson on Wednesday.
Binks, an Australian who lived in Nelson for a couple ski seasons, finished the film last year and is now promoting it at festivals and screenings around the world.
“It’s my first film and I like to be there at the screening to see how the audience responds to it,” he says.
Few films have been made about modern Mongolia, much less its music scene. The country was under communist rule until the early-90s and music was heavily censored. Only after democracy came has hip hop been able to thrive.
Binks interviewed the country’s first female rapper and a variety of hip hop artists who are gaining a strong following among young Mongolians. Those artists are now getting noticed by Western audiences, thanks to the film.
“Gennie [the female rapper] has been getting posts on her Facebook wall from people who discovered her through Mongolian Bling and want to know where they can get her music,” Binks says. “A lot of people don’t realize there’s hip hop music in Mongolia and with this film being seen by predominantly non-Mongolian audiences, it’s helping the artists get discovered elsewhere.”
Fliks presents Mongolian Bling at the Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. Binks will be on hand to answer questions following the film. Tickets are $10. The Light Thief will also screen that night at 9 p.m.