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Authentic appeal

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-08 07:39

Authentic appeal

Tharlo, starring Shide Nyima, reveals a weather-beaten man's loneliness in the face of transformation. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Tharlo is Pema Tseden's fifth feature film, yet is his first to be screened in movie theaters for what is technically known as a theatrical release.

The reason is simple: Pema Tseden makes personal films with no car chases, explosions or special effects. They are all stories he knows intimately about people in the Tibetan area of Northwest China's Qinghai province, where he grew up.

The characters speak mostly Tibetan, and the new film is even presented in stark black and white, with the rich texture of a quality photography album.

There is nothing touristy in Tharlo or Pema Tseden's other movies. The Potala Palace makes only a cameo appearance as the backdrop in a photography store, together with Beijing's Tian'anmen Rostrum and New York's Statue of Liberty.

The only characters donning traditional Tibetan garb are a pair of walk-on roles in that photo lab, and they are soon asked to change into Western suits to fit the backdrop of a New York skyline.

One is tempted to read various meanings into such details.

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