Home » VPRO Acquires Netherlands Broadcast Rights to Hot Docs Film ‘Daughter of Genghis’ (EXCLUSIVE)

VPRO Acquires Netherlands Broadcast Rights to Hot Docs Film ‘Daughter of Genghis’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Dutch public broadcaster VPRO has acquired Netherlands broadcast rights to “Daughter of Genghis.”

The documentary about Mongolian female nationalist gang leader and single mother Gerel Byamba will make its North American debut at Hot Docs on Monday. The doc, directed by photo-journalists Kristoffer Juel Poulsen and Christian Als, follows Byamba, who is the leader of the Mongolian organization called Gerel Khas. The goal of the ultra-nationalist organization, which is made up entirely of women, is to cleanse Mongolia of corruption and Chinese oppression. In the film, Byamba focuses her fight against the prostitution of Mongolian women to Chinese clients, seeking a gender equal and racially pure Mongolia. To achieve their goals, Gerel Khas resorts to violence.

“Our film stems from a deep curiosity to understand ultra nationalism,” Poulsen and Als said in a joint statement. “How do the hatred of foreigners and the need to protect oneself and one’s people arise? We set out to explore these questions with an open mind. Gerel is a violent activist, a single mother, a spiritual seeker and an ardent nationalist. She is neither hero, nor victim. She both fascinates and repels us.”

Als went to Mongolia in 2015 with Knud Brix, a former colleague from the Danish School of Journalism, to investigate the rise of right-wing extremism in Mongolia.

“Together with Knud, we did a research trip in Mongolia; we knew it wouldn’t be easy to infiltrate this milieu, but I had experience in getting access to underworlds,” Als told Variety in February. “This is when he first encountered the charismatic Gerel. While combating prostitution, the crushing influence of neighboring China, and longing for the past glory of her nation under Genghis Khan rule, Gerel was also struggling to raise her son Temuulen on her own. She immediately stood out, not only because of her stature, but because of her fierce personality and vision. She was dreaming of a better future for Mongolia, with women at the heart of it.”

Brix would go on to join the Danish newspaper Ekstra-Bladet as editor-in-chief. Als and Poulsen then finished the documentary. Together the co-directors made numerous trips between Denmark and Mongolia and captured more than 200 hours of footage from two cameras.

“The film is not only visually stunning but also has been able, due to the length of the production process, to show a unique transformation from the main character when it comes to her political beliefs and the way to deal with them,” says Nathalie Windhorst, VPRO head of factual acquisitions. “With our documentaries we really want to show our Dutch audience what’s happening beyond our borders, and although it’s tempting to focus on known warzones now, this film is able to give us a glimpse into a completely unknown world, Mongolia.”

“Daughters of Genghis” made its world premiere in March at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen.

“(This documentary) is a universal story that hopefully inspires viewers to see the nuances of hate, listen to the incomprehensible and seek the human behind the beast,” Poulsen and Als said. “The film provides unprecedented access to the inaccessible underworld of nationalism. Our hope is that this film will challenge audiences and expand the common understanding of democracy, spirituality and nationalism.”

Producer Andreas Dalsgaard of Elk Film adds: “The acquisition by VPRO is important to show that creative character driven documentaries have a place with broadcasters, who tend to prioritize investigative journalistic stories.”

“Daughter of Genghis” was co-produced by Pumpernickel Films and Mantaray Film. London-based Taskovski Films acquired world rights to the film in February, and it was acquired in Nordic markets for broadcast by Swedish national TV broadcaster SVT and Norwegian streamer VGTV.