Student Delegate Blog: The Passion of the Filmmaker

When filmmakers talk about their “passion project”, they usually mean something that is deeply meaningful or relevant to them.

By Fan Huang

When filmmakers talk about their “passion project”, they usually mean something that is deeply meaningful or relevant to them. But, three out of four dentists filmmakers agree—their passion is nothing compared to Binder Jigjid’s passion in PASSION (say that one three times fast). Byamba Sakhya’s PASSION–now my favorite film of SFIAAFF—documents the decline in Mongolia cinema and how Binder Jigjid desperately tries to rekindle the nation’s appreciation for film by traveling all over the country to promote and screen his film, HUMAN TRAFFIC. Binder Jigjid’s remarkable optimism and perseverance, in spite of seemingly hopeless circumstances, show us that once again it is the courageous will of filmmakers that triumphs and makes inspiring independent works possible. This film is also a perfect example of what the SFIAAFF is all about: enriching and engaging audiences with topics that are ignored by the mainstream media and also both fresh and relevant.


Filmmaker’s Brunch led us to have the wonderful opportunity to chat with producer Anderson Le and director Stephane Gauger of SAIGON ELECTRIC a day after their world premiere. They mentioned how they managed to authentically portray both the Vietnamese and breakdancing culture in the film. Also, there was the discussion of the immense potential of Asian cinema in places like: Phillipines, Mainland China, and Vietnam. The sky is the limit for these nations’ film industries, and jumping on board early would be an adept choice for aspiring Asian filmmakers.

This day shows us that no matter how hopeless it may be for small independent movies to compete against the Hollywood machine, there will always be individuals like Anderson Le, Stephane Gauger, and Binder Jigjid to bring these unique stories to light.

Fan is a participant in this year’s Verizon Student Delegate Program


  • Filmmaking is a very streneous process and passion is the key to success in this business. Though it’s hard, but it’s the same way as a mother bears the child in her womb for nine months. The film maker too requires the same patience and passion.No pain, no gain!

  • I agree with Nawneet – No pain, no gain! Talent fueled by passion is necessary to travel through the road towards success. The documentary of Binder Jigjid’s work and distribution scheme was a great testament and inspiration to keep following your dreams and to be true to yourself. The film deserved two thumbs up in my book.

  • PASSION was an extraordinarily personal view of a national tragedy. While Byamba is somewhat upbeat and he doesn’t belabor the point, the two kids shown talking about Cameron’s ALIENS revealed the real challenge for filmmaking in a place like Mongolia, which is awash in imported blockbusters and dozens of Chinese, Japanese and Korean films each year. As Binder laments, the State-run system had its faults (crushing his father’s talent, among other things) but at least it was funded….

  • Great review! I couldn’t help but laugh at your comment about the “awkwardness of gatherings with aunties” because I definitely feel the subtle awkwardness (though sometimes more direct, especially when I cannot communicate with them through mandarin). Heather Keung’s search for connection with the past is creatively conveyed through the use of combining old footage (possibly from the 90’s? I couldn’t help but notice those thick, vintage glasses), and editing them with to look even more antiquated. We are fortunate to live in an era where different digital mediums allow us to delve in the past and recreate it as our own.

  • I also took away from the filmmaker’s brunch the idea that Asia is fertile ground for the aspiring filmmaker. With production and labor costs much lower than anything in America, producer Anderson Le and director Stephane Gauger noted that “Saigon Electric” might have been impossible to create in the U.S. The film was glossy and sexy and it showed Vietnam as quite an accessible place for visitors.

  • It’s pretty interesting because when we asked Stephane and Anderson about making these kinds of projects in the States, they joked that you’ll have to find people who’ll work for free. In a way it’s sad but true. It’s definitely a lot harder finding proper funding when your audience is quite limited here.

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