Icarus Films will be celebrating the New Year with the DVD release of Chinese/Tibetan author and filmmaker Pema Tseden’s latest work, Tharlo (based on his own novella), on Feb. 24.
The film had a brief Oscar-qualifying arthouse run during October of this year and arrives in the home entertainment market place with an ARR of 137 days.
Success allows access to remote locations in China and that is precisely what award-winning filmmaker Pema Tseden chose to do with his exquisitely-filmed drama, Tharlo, starring newcomer Shide Nyima (a notable Tibetan stage actor and comedian making his film debut here) as the title character, a simple Tibetan shepherd on a quest.
His quest seems easy enough, to gain an ID card from local officials, but he might as well have arrived at the gates of Gomorrah in attempting to accomplish this task. He is indeed a simple man, his companions are sheep (he even carries a small lamb with him), who is not even certain how old he is (perhaps in his 40s), but he does have the ability to recall from memory the verses of Mao Zedong’s writings.
To obtain the ID card he must get a photo — a seemingly straightforward task — which She, however, is something of a temptress who quickly introduces Tharlo to pleasures (sex, smoking and alcohol) that he is unaccustomed to.leads him to the salon of Yangsto (Yangshik Tso) for the purpose of getting his long hair washed and groomed for the photo.
Tseden presents the seduction and potential ruin of Tharlo against the symbolic remoteness and rugged beauty of the filming location in Qinghai Province … the isolation of both the place and the man are unmistakable. In many ways Tharlo is the tale of a simple man, on a simple quest, ultimately caught-up in Kafkaesque nightmare.
Tharlo is presented in glorious black and white and in Tibetan with English subtitles.