Pema Tseden: Celebrating a Tibetan Voice

A retrospective film series

Photo Courtesy of Icarus Films

January 27-28, 2018 | Free screenings | All films in Tibetan with English subtitles 

Pema Tseden was born in 1969 in Amdo, in the Tibetan region of Qinghai Province. He is widely recognized as the leading filmmaker of a newly emerging Tibetan cinema and the first director in China to film his movies entirely in the Tibetan language. Tseden has published more than 50 short stories and novels both in Tibetan and Chinese. His work has won numerous awards including the Drang-char (sbrang-char) Tibetan Literature Prize and has been translated into English, French, and German. Since beginning his film career in 2002, Tseden has created a highly acclaimed body of work. Tseden is Chairman of the Directors Association of China; he is also a member of the Filmmakers and Literary Societies of China.

Asia Society and Columbia University, Modern Tibetan Studies Program are delighted to present this retrospective of Pema Tseden's films. Screenings take place at Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York, NY.

For more information and to register for tickets, click on individual programs below.

The Silent Holy Stones

The Silent Holy Stones (Lhing 'jags kyi ma ni rdo 'bum)
2005. 102 min. 35mm. Color. 
Saturday, January 27, 4:00 pm

“Little Lama”, a 10-year-old Buddhist novice, returns home from the remote Guwa monastery for the New Year celebration, only to find himself hopelessly glued to his family's new TV and the magic it promises. An intimate insider’s look of everyday life in Tseden's home town, where traditional life rubs up against modernity and globalization. 

The Search

The Search ('Tshol)
2009. 112 min. HDCAM. Color.
Saturday, January 27, 7:30 pm

The Search follows a film crew driving across Tibet, hoping to cast an adaptation of a traditional Tibetan opera. Frustrated and unable to find actors who can live up to the legendary roles, The Search reveals a contemporary Tibet where the ancient and the modern co-exist.

Followed by a Q&A with Pema Tseden, Director; Sangye Gyaltso, Producer; Angela Zito, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Co-director, Center for Religion and Media, NYU; Tenzin Gelek, Trace Foundation (Translator).

Old Dog

Old Dog (Khyi rgan)
2012. 88 minutes. HDCAM. Color.
Sunday, January 28, 2:00 pm

A family on the Himalayan plains discovers their dog, a Tibetan nomad mastiff, is an exotic prize dog in China. Selling it can bring in a fortune, but comes at a terrible price. Old Dog is a humorous and tragic allegory showing the erosion of Tibetan culture under the pressures of contemporary society.

Followed by a panel discussion with Pema Tseden, Director; Sangye Gyaltso, Producer; Ying Qian, Assistant Professor, Columbia University, Department of East Asia Languages and Cultures; Tenzin Gelek, Trace Foundation (Translator). 


2015. 123 min. DCP. B&W.
Sunday, January 28, 6:30 pm

In the mountains of Tibet, Tharlo spends his days following a simple and familiar routine—tending his sheep, riding his motorcycle. When he journeys to the city to obtain an ID card, a meeting with a hairdresser leads to a life-changing series of events.  


Co-presented with Columbia University, Department of Modern Tibetan Studies Program. 

Special thanks to Robbie Barnett, Shu-chin Wu, Riga Shakya and Kristina Dy-Liacco.

Pema Tseden: Celebrating a Tibetan Voice, a retrospective film series is held in conjunction with the exhibition Unknown Tibet: The Tucci Expeditions and Buddhist Painting, on view at Asia Society Museum from February 27 to May 20, 2018.