Harvest Moon Tells a Bittersweet Story About Autumn in Mongolia
Amarsaikhan Baljinnyam and Tenuun-Erdene Garamkhand in Harvest Moon

Director Amarsaikhan Baljinnyam’s family drama Harvest Moon is a story of fatherhood and found family set in the breathtaking pastures of Mongolia during the fall. And in case you were wondering, it has nothing to do with Neil Young.

Harvest Moon tells the story of Tulgaa (Baljinnyam), a city-dweller who returns to his native village in Mongolia to visit his dying stepfather. He decides to stick around to lend a hand with the summer harvest, but soon, Tuntuulei (Tenuun-Erdene Garamkhand), a sassy 10-year-old boy, takes it upon himself to teach Tulgaa what he knows about tending to the grassland. Despite getting off on the wrong foot, the two soon realize that together, they can help each other heal from their respective emotional wounds.

The film had its world premiere this weekend at the Vancouver International Film Festival and will also screen at the Asian World Film Festival in Culver City, California, in November.

Harvest Moon‘s original Mongolian title is Эргэж ирэхгүй намар, which directly translates to “Fall will not return.” According to cinematographer Josua Fischer, who grew up in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, autumn is a time of great significance in Mongolia. The film was shot 45 minutes from the village of Norovlin in Khenti province, just south of the Russian border.

Harvest Moon Tells a Bittersweet Story About Autumn in Mongolia

A still from Harvest Moon.

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“For the nomads in Mongolia, fall is actually a very sad time, in a way. It’s a very melancholic time,” Fischer tells MovieMaker. “There’s a lot of activity going on, there are festivities. It’s warm. And then in fall, [people] go back into the city. The kids go back to school and the harvest is kind of done, and it’s more, like, bracing for a hard winter kind of thing.”

In Harvest Moon, Baljinnyam captures the wistful, melancholic days of autumn through the rolling fields and the bittersweet, temporary nature of the friendship between Tulgaa and Tuntuulei.

“There’s this beauty, but there’s kind of like this looming dread of winter,” Fischer says.

Baljinnyam directed, starred in, and wrote the screenplay for Harvest Moon based on the short novel by T. Bum-Erden. Fischer served as cinematographer, and the film was produced by Uran Sainbileg and Zavier Dumans with music by Odbayar Battogtokh. Bayarsaikhan Batsukh edited the film and production design was done by Bolor-Erdene Naidannyam.

Main Image: Amarsaikhan Baljinnyam and Tenuun-Erdene Garamkhand in Harvest Moon