A leading figure in Tibet’s emergent cinema, writer/director Pema Tseden was born to nomadic herder parents in 1969 in Amdo, the Tibetan region of China’s Qinghai Province. Author of more than fifty short stories and novels published in both Tibetan and Chinese, winner of the Drang-char Tibetan Literature Prize, Tseden made his feature film debut in 2002; since then, works such as The Search and Tharlo have received acclaim and awards worldwide and brought both the cultural vibrancy and the social concerns of contemporary Tibet to a global audience. As Steven Erickson wrote in Sight & Sound, “Tseden’s work is remarkable for shedding light on daily life in an oft-mythologized part of the world.”
The hallmarks of modern cinephilia flavor Tseden’s work, whether in The Search’s Kiarostami-like road-movie metanarrative and long-distance long takes, where characters seem dwarfed by landscape; or in his masterpiece, Tharlo, which brings performers’ faces straight into focus, framed by eighty-four brilliantly composed, static shots. His thematic concerns, however, are entirely of Tibet, whether the changes wrought by modernization on the lives of rural Tibetans or the constant pull between Tibetan culture and Chinese officialdom.
BAMPFA is proud to present three works by “the most important independent Tibetan filmmaker now working in China” (Shelly Kraicer, Cinema Scope). Tseden’s “ability to speak eloquently of individual despair and the emergency of cultural obliteration is masterful," Kraicer wrote; "his ability to do this in films of such eloquent, quiet beauty is nothing short of astonishing.”
Jason Sanders, Film Notes Writer