'Soul-Searching in Tibet' film series, April 10 and 15 at Asia Society NY

Contact: Elaine Merguerian 212.327.9271 or elainem@asiasoc.org

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
Screenings at Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC
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.

For interviews, stills and screeners, please contact 212-327-9271 or pr@asiasoc.org.

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

PROGRAM SCHEDULE (films in Tibetan Amdo dialect with English subtitles)

The Search ('Tshol)
Saturday, April 10, 2010, 3:30PM
2009. 112min. HDCAM.
A Tibetan film director travels from village to village looking for actors to star in a film based on the Tibetan opera Prince Drimé Kundun, a quintessentially Buddhist legend about compassion and self-sacrifice. Traveling by car, the director holds auditions in the unlikely but all-pervasive contexts of contemporary Tibetan life – in building sites, streets, bars, night clubs, and monasteries. Exercising formalistic restraint with a contemplative pace and unique camera placement, Pema Tseden has made a road movie that takes the viewer straight into the heart of a changing Tibet, raising penetrating questions about what identity means in the modern world. This film is the first ever film made in Tibet to be shot entirely with a Tibetan crew in the Tibetan language, with production support from renowned Chinese 5th Generation filmmaker Tian Zhuangzhuang.
Q&A with filmmaker.

“a charming …film within a film … with easy grace [and] a meditative aesthetic” - Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival
"an offbeat cultural album of Tibetan people as well as a cinematic pilgrimage to understand their lifestyles and religious heritage." -Maggie Lee, The Hollywood Reporter
“The Search is literally a journey through new Tibet.”—Louisa Lim, All Things Considered, NPR
"most exciting and unexpected ... discovery of an important new film."-Chris Berry, Senses of Cinema
Toronto International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
Shanghai International Film Festival - Jury Grand Prix
Locarno Film Festival
Vancouver International Film Festival

The Silent Holy Stones (Lhing 'jags kyi ma ni rdo 'bum)
Thursday, April 15, 2010, 6:45PM

2005. 102min. 35mm.
A child monk prepares to travel home from his monastery to spend the Tibetan New Year with his family. The villagers are rehearsing their annual staging of a traditional Tibetan opera but the little monk is more interested in the comic-religious television series Journey to the West. When he returns to the monastery, he hopes to watch the drama on television along with the monastery’s trulku (reincarnated lama), also a child, during their free time, but after one day is left with just a plastic monkey mask. The intricate and comedic balancing of study in the monastery with traditional opera in the village and Chinese drama on television brings to life the Tibetans’ seamless interweaving of tradition and globalization. Speaking as the chair of the Jury at the Pusan International Film Festival, renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami praised Pema Tseden's directorial debut and described it as in the tradition of Bresson and Ozu.
Introduction by Professor Robert Barnett, Columbia University.

"A beautifully observed, very well-made and touching first feature … that deals with the subject of cultural change with remarkable subtlety" - Jury, the International Film Critics Federation Prize, 2006
"simple but impressive and very human" - Wu Tianming, the famous Chinese director, President of the Jury, Changchun Film Festival
"The Silent Holy Stones has the immediacy of a documentary, delivering real insight into the evolution of a much-romanticized culture.."-Aaron Lazenby, San Francisco Film Festival 2006
Golden Rooster Awards - Best Directorial Debut
Shanghai International Film Festival - Asian New Talent Award
Changchun Film Festival - Special Jury Award
Hong Kong International Film Festival - International Film Critics Federation prize (FIPRESCI)
San Francisco International Film Festival

Support for this program is provided, in part, by The Henry Luce Foundation, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and Center on U.S.-China Relations.

About Pema Tsedan (Wanma Caidan in Chinese)
Pema Tsedan, writer, director, male, was born in 1969 in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province. Son of Tibetan nomads, Pema Tsedan is the only one of three siblings to have finished his schooling. He studied Tibetan Language and Literature at the Northwest University and has worked as a primary school teacher and a civil servant. He returned to school as an older student at China’s most prestigious film school, Beijing Film Academy, receiving a scholarship from the Trace Foundation. As a writer, Pema Tsedan has published novels and essays widely. As a filmmaker, he has made two features and # shorts to date. His films have been recognized internationally but most notable for garnering top honors in China including a Golden Rooster Best Directorial Debut Award (for The Silent Holy Stones) and a Shanghai International Film Festival Jury Grand Prix (for The Search).

The Silent Holy Stones (2003) – short/fiction
A Day of the Little Living Buddha (2003) – short/fiction
The Grassland (2004) – short/documentary
Love Story (2005) - documentary
The Silent Holy Stones (2005) – feature/fiction
The Search (2009) – feature/fiction

About the Asia Society
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit nonpartisan educational institution. Through exhibitions and public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art, and in Asia today. Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City. www.AsiaSociety.org

About Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University
Columbia’s Modern Tibetan Studies Program provides in-depth teaching, study, and research about modern Tibet, the first such program in the world. Four faculty members teach courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels, supported by one of the top library collections in the US, a year-round program of public events, and exchange visits with scholars from Tibet. www.columbia.edu/cu/weai/modern-tibetan-studies.html

About Trace Foundation
Trace Foundation is a private foundation with headquarters in New York City. The Foundation was established in 1993 to support Tibetan culture and the sustainable development of Tibetan communities. We strive to contribute to an equitable, educated, healthy and uniquely Tibetan society, rooted in its heritage, where communities prosper in a thriving natural environment. Trace Foundation has no political or religious affiliations. www.trace.org

About Maysles Institute
The Maysles Institute exhibits documentary films to inspire dialogue & action and advances community-produced films through education programs. Its cinema and education programs engage multi-generational communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs. The Maysles Institute serves as a site of community based, low-cost education and entertainment in Northern Manhattan. www.mayslesinstitute.org

About Kham Film Project
The Kham Film Project is an association of American and Tibetan filmmakers working together on documentary and participatory video projects that convey contemporary issues and experiences from inside Tibet. Through collaboration and participation, the Kham Film Project aims to engage Tibetans in the process of filmmaking and create unique films that contribute to the quality and diversity of knowledge about Tibet. www.khamfilmproject.org
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