Posts Tagged ‘tibet’

Free Screenings of Tibetan Filmmaker Pema Tseden at Asia Society

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Asia Society, Columbia University-Modern Tibetan Studies, Trace Foundation, Maysles Institute, and Kham Film Project present:

Soul-Searching in Tibet: Films by Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan)

April 10 & 15, 2010
**Filmmaker Pema Tseden Q&A on April 10th**
Screenings at Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

The Search (dir. Pema Tseden)

Asia Society, Columbia University-Modern Tibetan Studies, Trace Foundation, Maysles Institute, and Kham Film Project present the ground-breaking work of filmmaker Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan in Chinese), who has emerged as the outstanding cinematic voice of Tibet. Hailing from the Tibetan area of Amdo (Qinghai) and trained at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy where he was its first ever Tibetan student, Pema Tseden has made award-winning films that meditate on the meaning of culture and tradition in contemporary life, with Tibet as his canvas. The Tibet in his films is not the one that has been exoticized in Western cinema, or promoted as an epic example of progress and modernization in Chinese film. Instead, he has created a raw, observant, and tender film language to show the detailed tapestry of contemporary Tibetan experiences. Pema Tseden speaks of his art in relation to the traditional Tibetan aesthetic of the thangka or scroll paintings: “they’re like a panorama: all the stories are in one picture.”

This two-film series includes free screenings of Pema Tseden’s new film The Search (2009) and feature debut The Silent Holy Stones (2005) at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue (E 70 Street), New York City. Pema Tseden will be available in New York for interviews between now and April 15, 2010.

Free admission. Limit to two per person. Ticket registration available at or in-person at Asia Society. To purchase tickets or for more information, please call (212) 517-ASIA or visit

Program and further details after the break.


Tibetan films at the Maysles Institute (NYC) in March

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Tibet In Harlem 2

From the Maysles Institute website:

TIBET IN HARLEM 2: ORIGINS March 14–20, 2010
Presented by the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, Maysles Cinema, Machik and the Kham Film Project.
Series Programmers: Robert Barnett, Lynn True, Nelson Walker.

“A remarkable renaissance has been quietly taking place within Tibet, almost completely unknown to the outside world: a group of largely self-taught Tibetan intellectuals and artists have suddenly emerged who are making films about Tibetans and Tibetan life. In the last five years, these directors, each of them working alone and without state support, have found new ways to show Tibetan culture and life on screen. Their filmic visions are nothing like those made in the west or in China. Led by the works of Padma Tseten, which stand in their own right as major films by any standard, this festival showcases the early works of some of these filmmakers as they search for new ways of talking about being Tibetan.”

– Robert Barnett, Director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program, Columbia University

Tibet in Harlem 2: Origins is the second annual series of Tibetan and Tibet-related films at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem. This year’s program showcases a collection of rarely screened early films – both documentary and fiction – by some of the most important Tibetan and Chinese filmmakers working in Tibet today.

Full description and schedule after the break.


Interview with Tibetan Filmmakers on The Sun Behind the Clouds

Friday, February 26th, 2010

In an interview with Michael Guillen, filmmaker Ritu Sarin, who teamed with Tenzing Sonam to direct The Sun Behind the Clouds, a documentary about the Dalai Lama, had this to say about the withdrawal of Chinese films from the Palm Springs International Film Festival in response to their film being part of the lineup:

In the past, with another film of ours that we showed at the Toronto Film Festival, the Chinese consulate did call up the director of the Toronto Film Festival and said, “Would you please remove the film?” They said, “No” and that was the end of it. So we didn’t really expect them to come all the way from Los Angeles and pull out the films. We were really shocked. In the current climate, it seems that the Chinese are flexing their muscles more than they have done because they are so economically strong at this point. It took us by surprise.

Read the rest of the interview with Sarin and Sonam on Guillen’s blog. The Sun Behind the Clouds opens at Film Forum in New York City on March 31.

Tibetan Documentary Replaces Nanjing Massacre Movie at US Theater

Friday, February 12th, 2010

City of Life and Death (dir. Lu Chuan)

The New York Times reports that the Film Forum, one of the leading specialty theaters in New York City, has removed City of Life and Death, a movie about the 1937 Nanjing Massacre directed by Lu Chuan from their spring calendar. According to the article, National Geographic Entertainment, the North American distributor of the film, could not guarantee that a print of the film would be available in time for its scheduled release. (more…)

Skirmishes and Struggles Over Tibet Docs

Friday, January 15th, 2010
Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (photo courtesy of Friends of

Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam (photo courtesy of Friends of

Chinese authorities have withdrawn two films from the Palm Springs International Film Festival (Jan. 5-18) in protest of the scheduled screening of a documentary about Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

The more prominent of two films, City of Life and Death (also known as Nanjing! Nanjing!), written and directed by Lu Chuan, is a critically acclaimed fictionalized account of atrocities committed by the Japanese occupiers in 1937. According to a report on The Desert Sun, a local paper at Palm Springs, CA, the festival director Darryl Macdonald “regards the film as one of the best unsung films in the festival, but said its merit isn’t enough to subvert the festival’s adherence to artistic freedom.” The other film is Ye Kai’s comedy Quick, Quick, Slow.

A report on the New York Times calls the dispute “a bona fide diplomatic incident,” observing that “while Chinese officials told the festival’s director that the filmmakers themselves had decided to withdraw their state-financed works, many China experts believe that it is the state sending a message, rather than the individuals.”

The report also reviews the recent history of “protest[s] by Chinese officials that the arts, and film specifically, are being used as a weapon to meddle in their internal affairs.”

In August, two American filmmakers were blocked from traveling to China to present their documentary about the more than 5,000 children in Sichuan Province who died when a 2008 earthquake caused numerous schools to collapse. Computer hackers and demonstrators took aim at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia in July to protest its screening of a documentary about a leader of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of northwest China, where some 200 people were killed in ethnic violence last summer. And at last fall’s Frankfurt Book Fair, a diplomatic struggle emerged over the fair’s invitation to two dissident Chinese writers to speak at its official program honoring China.

The target of this protest is The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom, directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. According to the program at Palm Springs, the film “follow[ed] [the Dalai Lama] over an eventful year, including the 2008 protest in Tibet, the long march in India, the Beijing Olympics and the breakdown of talks with China.”

More news, and a trailer of The Sun Behind the Clouds, after the break.


Tibetan Filmmaker to Be Tried for Subversion

Monday, November 16th, 2009
Dhondup Wangchen (Photo courtesy of the NY Times)

Dhondup Wangchen (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

According to a report on New York Times from Chongqing, China, a self-taught filmmaker who spent five months interviewing Tibetans about their hopes and frustrations living under Chinese rule is facing charges of state subversion after the footage was smuggled abroad and distributed on the Internet and at film festivals around the world.

Dhondup Wangchen, 35, has been detained since March 2008, just weeks after deadly rioting broke out in Tibet. Since October 2007, he began traveling the Tibetan plateau interviewing monks, yak herders and students about their lives. In the resulting 25-minute documentary “Leaving Fear Behind,” most of his subjects freely expressed their disdain for the Han Chinese migrants who are flooding the region and their love for the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959.

The report also mentions that, with hundreds of lawyers, dissidents and journalists serving time in Chinese prisons, human rights organizations are busy lobbying the White House, members of Congress and the news media to press the Chinese government on such thorny topics as free speech, democracy and greater religious freedom.

Here is a brief biography of Dhondup Wangchen by Tsetring Gyaljong, a cousin who helped him make the documentary, and a news clip about Mr. Wangchen and his project on ABC News.

Free Ticket Giveaway for Asia Society’s China Green Multimedia Festival

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

dGenerate Films has partnered with Asia Society to give away 5 free tickets to the China Green Multimedia Festival: The Third Pole on October 13, 2009, which features 4 short films and a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers!

The films and discussion will focus on the Tibetan Plateau, where the mighty glaciers are melting, drastically altering the lifestyle and livelihood of the local population. The Tibetan Plateau feeds the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus Rivers. The impending exhaustion of glacial feed has grave implications for the people across Asia. Check out a preview of Michael Zhao’s short film Less Blessed, which will screen at the festival:

China Green Multimedia Festival: The Third Pole

Oct 13, 2009 | 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Asia Society
725 Park Avenue, New York, NY
$7 Students and Members; $11 non-members

For more information about this event, including film descriptions, please visit the Asia Society’s China Green Multimedia Festival website.

Click here to enter our free ticket giveaway.

Update: Winners announced! Congrats!

John B.
Rob C.
Ruth M.
Jim B.
Ari T.

Tony Rayns praises Chinese Indies at the Vancouver Film Festival

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

In Joanne Lee-Young’s article for the Vancouver Sun, longtime Asian film programmer and critic Tony Rayns spotlights some of his favorite films in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival Dragons & Tigers Program of Asian cinema. Our own blog contributor Shelly Kraicer programmed the Chinese titles in the series, some of which are mentioned below:

Rayns: “In the last 10 years or so… nearly all of the creative energy in [mainland] Chinese cinema has come from the independent sector, from kids working outside the film industry.”

This means that when there is an event, like the devastating Sichuan earthquake last year, filmmakers like Du Haibin, “who has always been drawn to the marginal, the dispossessed and people who are socially at the bottom of the ladder,” said Rayns, rush off to film those events.