Cannes Film Festival 2023: “If only I could hibernate”, the Mongolian film that moved the Croisette

At the end of the screening, the director and her three young actors were treated to a standing ovation for several minutes, until the public was asked to leave the room. There was loud applause but also… watery eyes. The director Zoljargal Purevdash, selected for Un certain regard, did not expect such a welcome. His film, If only I could hibernate does not seek to activate the lacrimal glands, nor to press the buttons of sentimentality and sentimentality. It’s a great movie, in the vein of bicycle thief by Vittorio De Sica. It is a social, political film excellently served by a refined aesthetic.

How to survive and get out of your social condition

If only it were possible, Ulzii wouldn’t have to carry the world on his shoulders like Sisyphus. Ulzii, a high school student very gifted in physical sciences, must support his family, replace his deceased father and his mother drowned in alcoholism. His younger sister and younger brother are completely dependent on him. So Ulzii competes in ingenuity and resourcefulness to feed his family and heat the yurt. Outside it is -35 degrees. When coal runs out, all the siblings find themselves in danger. Still, Ulzii dreams. He dreams of participating in the national physical science competition. His goal: to get a scholarship and have a salary later to get his family out of poverty. “If I cry, I’ll feel like I’m defeated”, he admits. So, Ulzii does not doubt, he fights, falls, gets up…then falls, then gets up…

Scene from the movie "If only I could hibernate".  (Eurozoom)

The yurt people

Mongolian filmmaker Zoljargal Purevdash tells a universal story, a fight, a revolt against an unjust order. On the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, a district of yurts where economic refugees are settled, forced and forced to leave their land for the capital, in search of a job, is the object of all exclusions. The distance between the Ulaanbaatar of buildings and that of yurts is measured in light years. The inhabitants of the yurts are accused of polluting the atmosphere. “I grew up in this district and still live there. I know no one is burning coal to poison the other side of town. What we breathe is not smoke, it’s poverty,” protests Zoljargal Purevdash.

If only I could hibernate, a great universal film, sensitive and intelligent.

Scene from the movie "If only I could hibernate".  (Eurozoom)


Title : If only I could hibernate

Achievement : Zoljargal Purevdash

Duration : 1h38

Gender : Drama

Distribution : Battsoog Uurtsaikh. Tuguldur Batsaikhan and Nominjiguur Tsend

Native country : Mongolia

Summary: Ulzii, a teenager from an underprivileged neighborhood in Ulaanbaatar, is determined to win a science competition for a scholarship. His mother, illiterate, found a job in the countryside, abandoning him, his brother and his sister, despite the harshness of the winter. Torn between the need to take care of his siblings and his desire to study for the competition, Ulzii has no choice: he must accept to put himself in danger to provide for his family’s needs…

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