A Glimpse of Pema Tseden’s New Film “Tharlo”

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High Peaks Pure Earth presents an English translation of recent Tibetan language news articles on filmmaker Pema Tseden’s new film called “Tharlo”.

The news articles first appeared in the Tibetan language newspaper published by Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Ch: Huangnan) and were re-posted by a Tibetan language website about films on May 30, 2015: http://www.filmtbt.com/other/2015-05-30/431.html

Pema Tseden is a highly acclaimed Tibetan director, author and screenwriter born in 1969 in Amdo. Trained at the Beijing Film Academy, his feature films are The Silent Holy Stones (1995), The Search (2009), Old Dog (2011) and The Sacred Arrow (2014) and have won many international awards. His short story “The Dream of a Wandering Minstrel” was recently translated into English and published online by Words Without Borders.

“Tharlo” will have its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival next month.

For more on “Tharlo” in Tibetan see http://www.bosubtitle.com/news/20150504468.html and http://www.filmtbt.com/other/2015-05-22/428.html

For updates in English about the progress of the film, “Like” the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pema-Tsedens-Tharlo/1704028549824334

Thank you to Palden Gyal for help with this post and for the translation from Tibetan to English.

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The Filming of Pema Tseden’s “Tharlo”

After filming in different places for about a month, on May 26, the reputed Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden and the crew successfully concluded the shooting of “Tharlo,” Tseden’s new film. The final phase of the filming took place in the township of Zewa in Tiga, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

One of the unique things about this upcoming film is that it is the popular Tibetan dramatist and comedian Shide Nyima’s first appearance in a feature film. As an expression of his deep love and commitment to performing arts, Shide Nyima sacrificed his seventeen-year uncut long-hair as required by the character of his performance in this film, and it is for these reasons that it can be considered an important and historical moment in the emerging landscape of Tibetan filmmaking and arts. Additionally, as appeared in Pema Tseden’s first film, “The Silent Holy Stones,” and who also participated and received great attention and admiration in the national talent competitions “The Banquet of Flowers” and “The Search of Lisen-Jie,” Yangshig Tso performs as the lead female actress in this film.

Likewise, there is also Jinpa who first rose to Tibetan stardom as the protagonist in the short film, “The Beam of Wisdom,” released on the Chodme website that attracted much public attention and brought the actor in the limelight, and this becomes his debut in a feature film too. The Tibetan actor, Tashi, who became nationally famous for his performance as Mao Zedong in a Chinese film, also appears in “Tharlo” along with the well-known Tibetan singer Dekyi Tsering as supporting actors. With so many well-established actors, singers and celebrities appearing in the same film, many people are very excited and are already looking forward to the release of “Tharlo”. Since the shooting of the film successfully ended a week ago, now it is in the post-production process. It will be released by the end of this year at the earliest or sometime early next year.

The Distinctive Aspect of “Tharlo”

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Recently, towards the end of the filming of “Tharlo”, when the news about Shide Nyima’s much cherished and seventeen-year uncut long-hair being completely shaved off his head by the character of Yangshig Tso (a hairdresser) broke on social media, many Tibetan netizens circulated the news and commented on and discussed the significance of this scene and the act to the film. According to reliable sources, when the protagonist Shide Nyima’s deeply cherished and seventeen-year uncut long-hair was cut, he couldn’t stop his tears from falling in the middle of the act, and it even disconcerted the crew with a moment of uneasy silence. Declaring, “Sacrifice for once for art,” Shide Nyima shaved his head clean.

A Glimpse of “Tharlo”

Unlike his other films, Pema Tseden’s new film “Tharlo” is unique in its setting for it primarily takes place in a highly remote and isolated environment on the Tibetan plateau. An old house was built in the middle of an uninhabited and remote landscape as the house of the herder Tharlo (protagonist). The film follows the tragic as well as heart-warming encounters of Tharlo as he goes to the city to obtain his “residential certificate,” and recounts the difficulties that Tharlo faces like the lack of services of transportation and phone. The unique setting gives special prominence to the natural environment and the rare beauty of the Tibetan plateau and grasslands.

The scenes shot at the district fort and the town became momentous events for the crew. Even before the filming came to an end at these venues, it excited the local public life and their passion for arts and performing arts. All events related to the filming of “Tharlo” were broadcast and published by Qinghai Tibetan-Chinese Radio as well as the Qinghai Daily Newspaper, which were shared and circulated extensively on social media.

Shide Nyima’s Wish for “Tharlo”

With the successful completion of the filming of “Tharlo”, the lead actor Shide Nyima comments that his experience of appearing in a feature film for the first time was highly encouraging and stimulating, and that it contributed much to his outlook and expectations of acting and performing arts. Shide Nyima expresses his deep admiration and regards to director Pema Tseden’s hard work, sincere commitment to film-making, and his meticulous and impeccable professional and personal skills at it. Nyima also comments on the performance of the young Tibetan singer and actress Yangshig Tso that he was impressed by her versatility, deep devotion and dedication to the career of acting and performing acts. Moreover, Shide Nyima praises and thinks highly of the crew involved in different units of the operation under the direction of Pema Tseden. Finally, he wishes success for “Tharlo,” written and directed by the well-known Tibetan film-maker Pema Tseden, and hopes that it becomes a work of consequential contribution to the development of Tibetan film-making and performing arts.