Tibet filmmaker on Venice festival shortlist

Xu Wei
A new drama by China's Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden has been selected to compete in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.
Xu Wei
Tibet filmmaker on Venice festival shortlist
Ti Gong

A new drama by China’s Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden has been selected to compete in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section at the 76th Venice International Film Festival.

It is the third time one of the talented director’s productions has been chosen by the festival, following the footsteps of “Tharlo” in 2015 and “Jinpa” in 2018.

The Orizzonti section, set up in 2004, was created to encourage more innovative and experimental film productions from all over the world. 

Tseden’s new movie “Balloon,” based on a novel of the same name, is set against the backdrop of a Tibetan grassland.

It tells the story of an ordinary Tibetan family whose peaceful life is dramatically changed by the appearance of a condom. They have to make some hard choices through a series of embarrassments and a dilemma.

Aside from highlighting Tibet’s distinctive culture, the director explores the intense relationship between spirituality and reality in the story.

The 49-year-old revealed that “the film depicts a common dilemma confronting people of today.”

Different from many of his former works, “Balloon” includes some elements of fantasy and a dream sequence.

The film’s showing at the festival, which will be held from August 28 to September 7, will be its world premiere. 

Chinese streaming magnate iQIYI is a co-producer of the movie. 

In recent years iQIYI has funded and produced many original Chinese films in diverse genres including “Legend of the Demon Cat,” a fantasy horror, and “Youth,” a romance. 

Some of the movies such as “Spycies,” an animation comedy, and “The Moment of Pluto,” a drama film by Zhang Ming, have been widely acclaimed and selected by the Cannes Film Festival for special screenings.

In May, the video-sharing website also launched a new plan for original movies.

iQIYI’s plan is to be more engaged in a movie’s production, distribution and marketing. Compared to the old film marketing mode, new movies will cater more for the tastes of online viewers.

iQIYI officials noted that they will attach more importance to a film’s artistry and commercial values. More original realistic productions about the lives and emotions of human beings will be encouraged.

Its original film projects will cover a wide range of genres, including comedy, crime, romance, war and disaster. Among the potential big hits on its hands are Zhu Yawen’s comedy film “ATM,” the war epic “Tank I” and the disaster film “Spring in Fever,” to focus on the fight against SARS in 2003. 

Tibet filmmaker on Venice festival shortlist
Ti Gong

Pema Tseden won the Best Screenplay award for his film “Jinpa” in the Orizzonti section at the 75th Venice International Film Festival.

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