Under a Mongolian Sky

Beautiful Destinations

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A whisper in the wind, a silence in the stars. Western Mongolia contained a humble beauty, a powerful vastness that’s lure only strengthened as time went on. Nainoa and I (I being Sam Potter) spent two weeks in the province of Bayan-Olgii getting to know the Kazakh eagle hunters who call these lands home. Every day started with the soft blue glow of dawn on our window, the rattle of a bitter wind trying to force its way in, and the fleeting moment of courage it took to remove oneself from the warm bundle of animal skins that made up our beds on the floor. Of course, that was nothing compared to the walk to the outhouse, or for that matter, being in the outhouse, which was four almost waist-high walls surrounding a hole in the ground. Here you’d walk out onto a plank of wood, pop a squat, and decide whether to stick your head up into the icy wind and away from the stench, or hunker down in the sweet sweet smell of warmth. I usually chose warmth, however, Nainoa said he preferred to brave the cold. After that, we’d saddle up and head off into the snow-capped countryside, from this point there are 100 stories I could tell you. Stories of snowstorms and wolves, adventures and eagle hunts, and of deliriousness and hysterical behavior. But the one I’d like to share, although a bit meek in comparison, holds great importance for both myself and the film. After a very long and very cold day, the sun was just starting to set as we returned home. Nainoa and I dismounted our horses and stumbled into the house after our host Esker. The fire was warm, the milk tea was hot, and the house was alive with the hustle and bustle of a mother's work. The young eagle huntresses, Igerim and Igerkh, had been with us shooting all day but were quick to shed their fur coats and help their mother. Nainoa and I were commanded to sit and drink our tea, but soon Nainoa Snuck off to upload footage, and I quietly started peeling potatoes. Tonight Aklut (Esker the eagle hunter’s wife) along with their 4 daughters were preparing a very important and delicious traditional dish, dumplings, and they were freaking amazing, but the reason this night was so special wasn’t because of the dumplings, but because of the friendships that were born. Barriers Were broken and true personalities came out. We laughed, played silly games and had staring contests. We cracked jokes, shared music, and ended up turning this quiet little brick house tucked far away amongst the Altai mountains into a full-blown dance party. These kinds of nights are the heart of everything to me, they’re why I do what I do, and they’re also the moments I’ll never be able to adequately share... no amount of words or cameras can capture them, and distracting myself with trying would be a shame. They’re little rays of pure light that shine through and remind me that we’re all connected, that we can communicate without ever speaking the same language and we can love someone we don't even know. I like to think that these moments are at the heart of our films, that although they can never be captured, they can be felt, that they guide, shape, and direct the stories we tell. Esker said to us at the end of the night that “we are good tourists, and that he knows we traveled far, but he hopes we come back one day, in the summer, and when we have families of our own”.

Sam Potter | Writer, Director & Host | https://www.instagram.com/captainpotter/
Nainoa Langer | Director of Photography, Editor & Sound Design https://www.instagram.com/nainoalanger/

Igerim & Igerkh

Tom Jauncey | Beautiful Destinations | Executive Producer https://www.instagram.com/tomjauncey/
Alan Potter | Copy Editor https://www.instagram.com/mr_uncle_al…
Eternal Landscapes | Fixer https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/

We would like to give a special thank you to our friends at Eternal Landscapes for creating such a unique experience that lifts up, preserves, and respects the people and lands of Mongolia. If You ever plan on visiting, they’ll make sure you can do so responsibly and sustainably.

NAI does all the sound design, makes his own music, and remixes tracks to fit our film | https://open.spotify.com/artist/3xEGTvg3bZg8nf1yzOeobW?si=JFAJ_QjPTtW9aEuZz6vV0Q
NIck Caves & Warren Ellis (NAI REMIX) | “The proposition #2& Happy Lands”
The Brian Jonestown Massacre | “Anemone”
Tony Anderson | “Dwell”
The HU (NAI REMIX) | “The Great Chinggis Khaan”
The Grand National Orchestra of Mongolia | “Mongolian Steppe Melody”
Lumineers (NAI REMIX) | “Sleep On The Floor”