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Venice Festival: Asian Shadows Picks up Tibetan ‘Tharlo’

"Tharlo" by director Pema Tseden
Courtesy of Heaven Pictures, Asian Shadows

Sales company Asian Shadows has picked up international rights to “Tharlo,” Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s drama that has its premiere in Venice’s Orizzonte section.

Adapted from Pema Tseden’s own novel, which has already been published in France and Japan, the story follows a shepherd whose quiet life is disrupted when he has to go to the city to get his first ID photo.

“Tharlo is typical of Tibetans of the present generation. This is a story that shows them in a state of confusion, disorientation and desensitization,” said Pema Tseden (aka Wanma Caidan). “This film is in black and white as the ruggedness in the images speaks of the situation and ambience of the vast lands of Tibet, and of the state of being of the protagonist.”

Pema Tseden previously directed “Silent Holy Stones,” and “The Search” and has a string of co-producing and writing credits including Sonthar Gyal’s “River” and “The Sun Beaten Path.”

“Tharlo” is produced by Heaven Picture, a Chinese indie with credits including Li Ruijun’s “River Road,” which appeared in Tokyo last year and Berlin in February, and first time director Bi Gan’s “Kaili Blues,” which won twin prizes in Locarno last month.

Asian Shadows, which is an expansion of the sales operation launched last year by Beijing-based French producer Isabelle Glachant, will handle rights outside Greater China. It will take “Tharlo” to the Busan festival next month.