First Tibet film fest all booked out

The Sacred Arrow (2014, above) by Pema Tseden, one of the leading film-makers in Tibet.
The Sacred Arrow (2014, above) by Pema Tseden, one of the leading film-makers in Tibet.PHOTO: PEMA TSEDEN
The Sacred Arrow (2014, left) by Pema Tseden (above), one of the leading film-makers in Tibet.
The Sacred Arrow (2014, left) by Pema Tseden (above), one of the leading film-makers in Tibet.PHOTOS: PEMA TSEDEN

The first Tibet Film Festival to be held in Singapore on Saturday and Sunday is already booked out. However, those interested can register on the waiting list online.

Organised by Tibetan social innovation non-profit organisation Machik, the festival, which is free, will premiere four films here at The Projector, including The Sacred Arrow (2014) by Pema Tseden, widely considered the leading Tibetan film-maker today.

The festival was conceived to highlight Tibetan culture and practices to a wider audience.

Says Machik co-founder Losang Rabgey: "We've screened films before, but never as part of an entire festival. We are very excited to hold this in Singapore, which is a globalised country in Asia, with people from around the world.

"The response is so good that people from the United States and even India have been contacting us to hold one there too."

Machik expects about 180 audience members for the screening of each film.

The Sacred Arrow tells the story of an ancient archery competition between two neighbouring villages. Director Tseden, 46, filmed his fourth feature in Jentsa County over 35 days, taking inspiration from his youth when his grandfather would take him to see such traditional archery competitions.

He tells Life in an e-mail interview: "The greatest challenge of being a film-maker in Tibet is the lack of funds and the red tape we need to get around the State Administration of Films. Hopefully in the future, the film industry will grow and more professional crew and actors will emerge.

"I still have a lot of projects planned for the future. I'd love to join more international film festivals as they are an important way of gaining more recognition worldwide."

He is currently in Italy at the 72nd Venice Biennale to present his latest film Tharlo, about a young shepherd and his encounter with a city girl, which has been nominated for the Horizon Award. He is the first Tibetan director selected to participate in the biennale.

Other films that will be screened at the Tibet Film Festival are A Gesar Bard's Tale (2014), by Lharigtso and Donagh Coleman, about a Tibetan boy who becomes a holy man; The Valley Of The Heroes (2014), by Kashem Gyal, a documentary about the loss of the native language of Hualong Count and an attempt to restore it; and Summer Pasture (2012) by Lynn True, Nelson Walker and Tsering Perlo, a documentary following a summer in the life of a nomad family.

Dr Rabgey, 46, says: "Tibetan film has come a long way and now there are so many up-and-coming film- makers who want to express different ideas and thoughts via cinema.

"There's this one monk who makes films about conservation and animals such as vultures and yaks. He's an incredible wildlife expert and understands the power of film in bringing across a culture to the world."

  • All films are fully booked. However, those interested can register to be put on the waiting list. Register for free at http://machiktff.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'First Tibet film fest all booked out'. Print Edition | Subscribe