Previously at the ICA - Films

still: The Search

The Search

19 Oct 200920 Oct 2009

Pema Tseden used his Chinese name Wanma-caidan on his debut feature The Silent Holy Stones, but this time his own credit - like everyone else's - is proudly Tibetan. And so is his story. His searchers are a director and two associates who travel around rural Tibet to look for actors to appear in a film of the traditional Tibetan opera Prince Drime Kunden. (The ancient Indian prince is a paragon of compassion in Buddhist mythology: exiled from his kingdom for distributing treasures to the poor, he gave away his family and even his own eyes to those who asked.) They find the perfect actress for Princess Mande Zangmo at the outset, but she agrees to perform only if she's reunited with her boyfriend, now a teacher in the provincial capital - and so finding the boy becomes their goal. There's an undeniable element of 'Tibet's Got Talent' in the real-time scenes of auditions, but the obvious inspiration from Kiarostami's Through the Olive Trees suggests the wealth of emotional and cultural subtexts: this is a beautiful film about a rapidly changing society, about dying traditions, about spiritual confusions… and about fragile hearts. Tony Rayns

dir Pema Tseden, China, 2008, 117min

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