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1 posts from September 2010


Chinese/Tibetan Transnational Cinemas

The project for our visual anthropology class this semester
is to make a short documentary about Tibetan cinema in contemporary China. Our
focus is on currently active Tibetan film makers based in Beijing but with an
emphasis on the transnational nature of their productions in terms of their
cross-regional, cross-cultural, and inter-continental patterns of production,
distribution, and consumption. As part of China’s growing independent
film making, this small group of Tibetan directors, cinematographers, and
producers is making its contribution to the pluralization of China’s
cinematic landscape. In 2009 CCTV aired The Silent Holy Stone (2006) the
first film in Tibetan language made by Pedma Tsedan, the first native Tibetan
director. Prior to this landmark cinematic event, Pedma Tsedan had already
become well known outside China. This is another unique phenomenon of
independent cinemas of China: many productions rather gain international
attention before entering Chinese domestic film market.

I am fortunate to know most of Tibetan film makers. Last
Tuesday night we had screened Sonthar Gyal’s first production The Sun
Beaten Path
, a healing of story of a young man who lost his mother in a
tragic accident in Amdo, currently Qinghai Province. The genre of the film
could be called the “road film” involving the young man’s
pilgrimage to Lhasa and his grieving process with an old gentleman. The class
interviewed Sonthar Gyal as part of our documentary project. I was lucky to
borrow a Red One, a revolutionary digital motion picture camera, from a small
film company. This is not a HDV which most of us are accustomed to because of
its popular use in TV productions. Red One has a filmic quality that no other
cameras are comparable, as far as I know. Perhaps, Arriflex makes a similar
product but it is prohibitively expensive for independent film makers. At any
rate, last Tuesday night our students were all actively involved in the filming
process with a Red One. I hope I’ll have the privilege again to borrow it
but I can’t guaranteeJ