Tibet New Wave filmmaker Pema Tseden passes away at age 53

The director of the Tibetan art house movies “Jinpa” and “Balloon,” has passed away. He was 53.

It is believed that he was in Tibet when he passed away unexpectedly from an undisclosed ailment. Unverified reports in Chinese-language media said that he had a heart attack.

He worked as a professor at the China Academy of Art, which broke the news.

“In the early hours of May 8 in Tibet, Pema Tseden, a well-known Tibetan filmmaker, screenwriter, and professor at the Film School of the China Academy of Art, passed away after an intense illness. The school will cooperate with Mr. Tseden’s family to handle the follow-up issues as a result of the unexpected situation. The necessary details will be made public when the time is right, the Academy stated in a statement. Pema Tseden, a Chinese filmmaker of Tibetan descent who also went by the moniker Wanmaciadan, chose to operate inside the confines of the government-run system of screenplay reviews, censorship, and distribution licenses. His graduation from the elite Beijing Film School made him the first Tibetan student ever. Pema Tseden, a former government official and teacher who has worked on films including “Silent Holy Stones,” “The Sun Beaten Path,” and “Tharlo,” has been dubbed a pioneer of the Tibetan New Wave. His most recent three films were all given invitations to screen at the Venice Film Festival.

On “Snow Leopard,” a drama movie that is said to center on a father and son argument after a snow leopard kills nine of a herder’s goats, he finished shooting in July of last year. The father persists on letting the leopard live despite the son’s desire to kill it.

The human cast consists of Tseten Tashi, Jinpa, and Xiong Ziqi. Belgian director of photography Matthias Delvaux (“The Cloud in Her Room,” “Journey to the West”) handled the filming.

“Snow Leopard” is a production of Zhang Jian, Zhou Hao, and Wang Lei and is distributed by Great Luck Films, Lead Culture Media, Dzona Pictures, and Mani Stone Pictures. “Post-production is something we’re working on. We want to complete everything by October, and then we’ll start submitting the movie to festivals,” his team said in an email to Variety the previous year. The movie’s condition is unknown.

A second movie depicting a guy riding a Harley Davidson motorbike throughout Tibet in search of a lady, titled alternately “Stranger” and “Have a Nice Trip,” had also been approved for production by the government.

I am very sorry to hear of your demise, Pema Tseden, one of the most recognizable voices in modern film. Kiki Fung, a programmer at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, said on Facebook, “I wish this weren’t true.

News Desk

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