Indiewire lends a double dose of coverage to Pema Tseden’s Old Dog on its New York festival premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival. The film screens in New York City again next Monday June 18 at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn.
In his review of the film, Indiewire critic Christopher Bell gives the film an “A” rating, declaring it “a true gem and the mark of an especially skilled director.”
And so the Tibetan new-wave cometh. Though merely a tiny ripple for now (consisting of about two filmmakers), the homelanders are showing a different side of their environment, one overlooked by features such as “Seven Years in Tibet” or the blockbusters currently burning the region’s box office. Pema Tseden’s “Old Dog” doesn’t include any of the flourishing beauty that the aforementioned Brad Pitt vehicle does, instead opting to showcase a dismal, despairing area where the cities look like post-apocalyptic wastelands and the countrysides don’t seem to contain a speck of life. While his outlook on things is unrelentingly critical, he’s not being negative for the sake of it — there’s some true passion behind this work, and Tseden is a director with plenty to say on all topics, ranging from the younger generation’s lack of connection to their heritage to the troubling relationship between Tibet and China. All is told in a subtle way, with a minimal plot and quiet, patient long takes — which is also another way of saying that his modus operandi isn’t likely to please everyone, but for those that admire the work of filmmakers like Jia Zhangke, another remarkable talent has emerged.
In a separate article Bell interviews Pema:
“I tried to show people the traditional way of life and the social change taking place. For instance, in this film, there’s a story inside a story — that young couple couldn’t have a child. Through that kind of situation I’m trying to tell people what is current in Tibet. Things are changing,” Tseden noted. “The main point of the film is not just to tell a story, but also to demonstrate or document small details that make up Tibet.”