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From The dGenerate Films Collection
The Search (Xun Zhao Zhi Mei Geng Deng/'Tsol)
Directed by Pema Tseden
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A director, his assistant, and a businessman drive through the Amdo region of Tibet, scouring small villages to find actors for their adaptation of the namthar of Drime Kunden, an opera traditionally performed for the Tibetan New Year, that tells the story of a prince-an early incarnation of Buddha-who gives away all his possessions, his wife and children, and even his own eyes.

Driving through the country's stunning landscapes, the crew meets frustration in their search for actors who can live up to the legendary roles. They find that while many of the traditions they would like to film have persisted, others are disappearing.

Directed by Pema Tseden, whose SILENT HOLY STONES was China's first Tibetan-language film, THE SEARCH reveals a contemporary Tibet where the ancient and the modern co-exist.

film still

The film is framed by two love stories. In the first village they visit, the team discovers the perfect actress to play Made Zangmo, Drime Kunden's wife, but she will not perform unless her ex-boyfriend, who has left the village for a job in the city, plays the lead. The crew consents, and brings her along to find him. Along the way, the businessman tells the story of his first love. This moving account entertains the crew between stops in the villages, and captivates the otherwise quiet actress.

A human story that unfolds in the context of religious parable and historical change, THE SEARCH offers a sensitive, nuanced look at contemporary Tibet.

film still

"This film uses perfectly framed long takes, from a largely distant yet intimately engaged camera...a masterpiece of understated emotional longing set against an urgent desire to preserve a disappearing culture." —Cinema Scope

"At times, the film feels like Tibetan Idol, with the film crew recording bizarre and amusing auditions in frost-swept brick courtyards, cavernous rehearsal rooms and dimly lit anterooms." —All Things Considered, National Public Radio (NPR)

"[The] most exciting and unexpected was the possibly unprecedented discovery of an important new film at The Shanghai International Film Festival...the chance to see Tibet through a contemporary resident Tibetan's eyes is a big part of the film's appeal. The imagery is often stunning, but never picture postcard-like." —Senses of Cinema

2015 Ottawa Tibet Film Festival
Top 100 mainland Chinese films, Time Out Shanghai 2014
Grand Prize, 2009 Shanghai International Film Festival
Special Jury Prize, 2009 Bangkok International Film Festival
2009 Toronto International Film Festival
2009 Locarno Film Festival
2009 Vancouver International Film Festival
2009 London Film Festival
2010 Hong Kong International Film Festival
2010 Melbourne International Film Festival

105 minutes / Color
Tibetan / English subtitles
Release: 2013
Copyright: 2009

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Asia, China, Cinema Studies, Cultural Studies, East Asia, dGenerate Films Collection - Narratives

Related Links:
The Films of Pema Tseden
View a PDF of the Film's Press Kit

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