Old Dog (Lao Gou / Khyi Rgan)
PEMA Tseden / WANMA Caidan. China, 2011. Narrative, 88 minutes.
Tibetan w/ English subtitles.
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“A beautiful, highly effective and moving statement about a culture in danger of disappearing” – James Mudge, Beyond Hollywood
“Spectacular!” Leslie Felperin, Variety
A family on the Himalayan plains discovers their dog is worth a fortune, but selling it comes at a terrible price.
The Tibetan nomad mastiff is an exotic prize dog in China, fetching as much as millions of dollars from wealthy Chinese. When a young man notices several thefts of mastiffs from Tibetan farm families, he decides to sell his family’s dog before it is stolen and sold on the black market. His father, an aging Tibetan herder, is furious when he discovers their dog missing. When the father seeks to buy the dog back, it leads to a series of tragicomic events that threaten to tear the family apart, while showing the erosion of Tibetan culture under the pressures of contemporary society.
Pema Tseden (The Silent Holy Stones, The Search) is the leading filmmaker of a newly emerging Tibetan cinema and the first director in China to film his movies entirely in the Tibetan language. His third feature Old Dog is both a humorous and tragic allegory and a sober depiction of life among the impoverished rural Tibetan community. The masterful HD cinematography “perfectly incorporates the desolate living conditions of these outpost towns whilst magnificently capturing the majestic Himalayan scenery which surrounds them” (Patrick Gamble, CineVue). Pema Tseden “shows Tibet through Tibetan eyes, as it is lived and experienced by ordinary people” (The Culture Trip).