Tibetan Filmmakers Rising to Prominence

Recently, Pema Tseden, a Tibetan filmmaker in Tibet, has been awarded “Development Prize” at Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. It is a cash prize of $19,300, which will help fund his next film, Balloon. Besides the funding, it is the recognition that he receives outside Tibet, that makes me, a fellow Tibetan, proud of him. His previous film, The search, also won him much recognition and admiration, both among the Tibetans and the outsiders. The stories of his films revolve around the Tibetan traditions and popular mythical stories. For instance, The Search has its parts based on one of the eight most legendary Tibetan operas, Drime Kunden. The story of Drime Kunden, is said have been derived from the story of Shakyamuni, the life story of Buddha. Thus his films attempt at reviving and revitalizing the Tibetan culture and its roots.

Making his debut at Cannes Film Festival this year, is Tashi Tsering Gyalthang, a Tibetan filmmaker, based in Vietnam. His short film, Turtle Soup will be screened at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, among the top 20 films, in May. The story is simple yet fully captivating. It revolves around two little street kids, who for a time being, forget their task of selling sweets, and ensue a mission to save a turtle. While passing by a restaurant, they see a turtle in a tank. Upon getting close to the tank to play with the turtle, they see a note fixed on the tank, “Special Turtle Soup”. The restaurant workers chase them away. But they do not give up on their desire to save the turtle. Thus the story continues with how they save the turtle. Despite the simplicity of the story, the film won critical acclamations, for its soft camerawork, smooth editing and the humanistic portrayal of a pure kindness.

It is great to see more Tibetans breaking into new spheres, such as filmmaking. Besides its entertainment value, it is a great way  to consolidate Tibetan culture, arts and history – by reviving, revitalizing and restoring them on the celluloid.


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