by Xinhua writers Xu Xiaoqing, Fang Ning
SHANGHAI, April 13 (Xinhua) -- With dialogue in Tibetan with Chinese subtitles, "Tibet Sky" (or "Phurbu & Tenzin") debuted in Shanghai on Sunday.
The movie, produced by Ren Zhonglun and the Shanghai Film Group Corporation, has an all-Tibetan cast and will open across Shanghai on Tuesday.
In addition to the magnificent mountain landscape and Tibetan culture, the two-hour movie touches people's hearts with a story that runs from the liberation of Tibet in 1950s until the 1980s, from the angle of Tenzin, child of the manor, and Phurbu, serf of Tenzin.
The childhood friends become enemies when they grow up, because of the huge gap between their identities and families. Phurbu, the serf, starts his life as a lama in the name of Tenzin, which means all chants he makes, and all his prayers, shall be owned by Tenzin.
Tibetan actor Tobgye, who starred in "Hoh Xil" and thriller "No Man's Land", played a living Buddha in the movie. He said unlike previous attempts at telling Tibetan stories like "Serf" and "Red River Valley" in the movies, "Tibet Sky" is more artistically credible, using Tibetan actors and the Tibetan language. The camera language embodies the Chinese ideology of "floating clouds and flowing water," which means a free flowing style of story telling.
Screenwriter Alai is a Chinese novelist of Tibetan descent on his mother's side. His first novel "Red Poppies" published in 1998 won him national fame. He became the youngest winner of the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2003 at the age of 44, for his saga novel "All Dust Settled", an excerpt from which has been inscribed in China's high-school curriculum.
A version with English subtitles will come out soon for the overseas market, and the movie is likely to feature prominently at the Salento International Film Festival in Italy in June and the Montreal International Film Festival in Canada in August.
Producer Ren Zhonglun said preparations for the movie started five years ago and the production cost 14 million yuan (2.25 million U.S. dollars). A crew of 400 spent 10 months working in Tibet, at over 3,500 meters above sea level.
"The movie gives me a deeper understanding about my homeland. I believe it can show the world the real Tibet," said Lawa Norbu, who plays hero Phurbu.
Norbu and several other actors and actress in the movie are from the Tibet Drama Group, who graduated from the Shanghai Theater Academy in 2004. The movie is due for limited release in Lhasa and Beijing in the second half of the year.