China's Tibetan film awes audience at Venice Film Festival

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 6, 2018
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Tibetan director Pema Tseden and actors Jinpa and Genden Phuntsok at a photo call before the premiere of "Jinpa" at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 4, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Micro Entertainment]

Tibetan director Pema Tseden's "Jinpa," backed by executive producer Wong Kar-wai, received rave reviews for its world premiere in the Orizzonti at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on Tuesday. 

Two Chinese films are to feature at this year's Venice festival. "Jinpa" is competing in the Orizzonti (Horizons) program, while "Shadow" by legendary director Zhang Yimou is being screened on a non-competitive basis.

An audience of more than 1,500 attended the premiere of "Jinpa," which received several minutes of sustained applause at the end. This road movie was filmed in extreme conditions in deep winter and at 5,000 meters above sea level on the Tibetan plateau. "Jinpa," starring Tibetan actors Jinpa, Genden Phuntsok and Sonam Wangmo, revolves around a truck driver and a hitchhiker whose destinies become intertwined when they share a ride together.

The director and actors Jinpa and Genden Phuntsok, as well as director of cinematography Lyu Songye appeared at the premiere to engage in exchanges with critics, media and the audience. 

Pema Tseden has always paid close attention to Tibetan culture and the status quo of Tibetans. He is regarded as being in the vanguard of Tibetan films and his previous works depicting Tibet and Tibetan people have shone on international platforms. 

This time it is "Jinpa" that is attracting attention at home and abroad. "This is significant to me," Pema Tseden said at the premiere. "The entry in the competition makes me receive international attention for current film productions."

The script of the movie comes from two short stories, one being the short story "The Killer" by the Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu, and the other is Pema Tseden's own short story "I Ran Over a Sheep." Years ago, the director put the two stories about revenge and redemption together and worked on the film project. Different from his previous works, "Jinpa" is more concerned about the awakening of Tibetan individual life. 

"For the past few works, more people were interested in Tibetan culture or new knowledge of living status of Tibetans. This time, through 'Jinpa', I hope the audience can understand more about the emotions and situations of individual Tibetans, rather than just knowing something about the ethnic group."

The film has been widely praised by critics. For example, Jonathan Romney of wrote, "Playing at a concise 86 minutes, 'Jinpa' nevertheless has the anecdotal feel of a short slightly stretched beyond its natural capacity, but it's an enjoyable, teasing and very sly-humored watch with a charismatic lead and arresting visuals. Production input from Hong Kong maestro Wong Kar-wai should add to the film's visibility on the festival circuit, with niche outlets also likely to hitch a ride."

Wong Kar-wai and his award-winning team indeed helped the film, Pema Tseden stressed. Sound master and composer Tu Duu-Chih is in charge of the sound effects, while Wong's long-time collaborator William Chang served as film editor; renowned cinematographer Lyu Songye was hired as director of cinematography and famous musician Lim Giong took care of the music. Wong's Jet Tone Films is main production company and his Hong Kong-based Block 2 Distribution also picked up worldwide rights to the film.

"What impress me most is they are so professional. Their expertise and professionalism in every segment of a film production made this film more perfect," the director said. 

No release date has been set so far for the film in the Chinese market.

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