E.Urantuya: I wish to deliver Mongolian literature to French speakers

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      We interviewed translator and film director E.Uranzaya, who lives in Switzerland. We contacted her after we heard the film she directed was included in a Swiss movie commission. E.Uranzaya went abroad in 2002, shortly after she graduated as a film director from a Mongolian university. Now she became a “heroine” of the film and literature sector. The director who started a life in foreign country is a mother of four beautiful children. She hasn’t visited Mongolia many times since moving abroad19 years ago. She says that she is satisfied with her family, especially as her eldest son visits regularly. The following interview will explore the film directors' inner feeling about art.

What are you doing in Switzerland?

I work as a journalist and camerawoman at the local TV of the municipality I live in, Saxon, Valais. Also, I work in a law firm, which operates to defend the rights of foreign citizens. Firstly, I was recruited in the law firm as a volunteer. Then I was working as head of firm for a while. I became able to do synchronic and written translation in literature after finishing the French language class of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. I love my profession. I recently started working in my main profession, which is film directing. I haven’t yet done much in filmmaking as I made few documentaries and short films to the date. I defended my diploma with a feature-length film in Mongolia. 

What made you attracted to the media?

I was raised by my grandmother, who retired after working at Ulaan Od newspaper for many years. Perhaps my grandmother’s life and work played a big part on my passion for the sector. I learned a lot in several sectors since I moved to Switzerland. When I first came here, I was working for a seasonal newspaper and shifted to a local TV. Even though the TV doesn’t have many employees, our equipment is of high quality. As I heard, the TV was first founded by former movie club members. We barely have professional experts at the TV, but we are a good team united by our interest. We have one live broadcast once
a month.

 Is the reputation of journalists in Western Europe good?

I used to work for a seasonal newspaper called Voix d’exil in my early years. We work according to our plan that was processed before. The editors demand high quality content from journalists and are very strict on standards. People with high etiquette and responsibility can work for the newspaper. I went through many hardships, but the biggest problem is language barrier. I’m still trying to overcome it even now. This country has three official languages in addition to local dialects – French, Italian and Deutsch. We have to switch language after traveling 50 km from where we are. I guess it shows how hard it is to be a journalist here. If someone is fluent in those languages, there is a good opportunity to challenge yourselves in the press and media.

Tell me about the films you made to date?

I made several films like “Le Verre” (Story of Glass Cup), “La Course Contre Le Montre” (A Race with Time) and “Le Confinement” (The Confinement). Usually they were broadcast through local TVs. 

I heard your film called “Le Vinyle De La Solitude” was included in a Swiss movie commission. How do you translate the name? What story it tells and how did the audience respond?

It can be translated as “Vinyl of Solitude”. It’s based on a story by P.Batkhuyag with the same name. I translated and converted it into screenplay. I worked as a camerawoman, editor and voice actor. It shows how much loneliness a woman can bare until she snaps. It’s a Swiss movie with a Mongolian director. Switzerland has many people from many countries around the world. As I mentioned it has several official language. The country has a law about equality and people follow and respect the law. Our film crew supported me since I pitched my screenplay. I had a chance to cast skilled and experienced actor for the main role. I wasn’t hoping for it since the National Film Commission of Switzerland doesn’t accept films that often. After I heard the film was included in the commission, I was extremely happy. Currently, people are complementing my film. But I want a good critic about it since it will be helpful for my future films. I’m very motivated as I just started working by my main profession. In 2019, an organization to support filmmaking held a masterclass on how to create a film in 48 hours. I made the “Le Vinyle De La Solitude” with the crew I met at the course. As for now, due to some conditions, the film can’t be released publicly but you can watch the teaser video from the commission’s website.

Would you like to tell us about your family?

I married to a foreign man. We have four children. Our eldest son studied in Mongolia. The other three are interested in language and culture of the three countries. I’ve been teaching them poems and songs in Mongolian, English and French. I guess as the children grow bigger, they are choosing three different languages. My second child is more interested in Mongolian language. I can’t say that the Mongolian language doesn’t matter to children who were born and raised in other countries. Yet I can’t deny the necessity of language and culture of the country they are living in. My duty is to introduce, explain and promote culture, history and traditions of Mongolia from my perspective. That’s why I’m working to publish a book of Mongolian myth, stories, poems and songs with French translation.

I guess you are dedicating the translation job mostly for your own children.

Indeed, I am. It will be good for children like mine. I wish foreign people to read them as well.

Whose works did you translate to French? What are you planning to translate next?

I like psychological fiction and historic genres. I was disciplined by the works of D.Uriankhai. Currently, I’m ready to publish French versions of Kh.Bolor-Erdene’s “Running Woman” and “Mongolian Stories”. Also, I translated a play. I’m working on “Memories of Future” by B.Naminchimed.

Khantushig B