Pema Tseden, renowned Tibetan filmmaker passes away at 53

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 08 May: Pema Tseden, the internationally renowned Tibetan film director has passed away today in the early morning.

According to various news reports, the director reportedly passed away after suffering a cardiac attack early Monday morning. He was 53 years old.

However, the information regarding the place of his death can’t be ascertained. Some sources say he had died in Lhasa while others say he died in Shigatse. 

The renowned Tibetan filmmaker’s last message on his WeChat moment was on Sunday at 5:23 pm ( local time in Tibet). He wished fellow young Tibetan filmmakers the best of wishes.

The unexpected death of the most decorated Tibetan filmmaker has shocked the Tibetan communities, both inside Tibet and outside Tibet. 

According to a statement released by the China Academy of Art where he had been a teaching professor – “Pema Tseden, a famous Tibetan director, screenwriter and professor at the Film School of the China Academy of Art, died in Tibet in the early hours of May 8 due to an acute illness. Due to the sudden incident, the school will work with Mr Tseden’s family to deal with the follow-up matters. The relevant information will be announced in due course.”

Born in a nomad family, Pema Tseden earned legions of fans through his critically acclaimed films, making him the most successful and celebrated Tibetan filmmaker. He is one of the few Tibetans to have graduated from the Beijing Film Academy. Prior to that, Pema Tsetan had worked as a teacher and civil servant. 

The critically acclaimed director, of “The Silent Holy Stones”,  “Tharlo”,  “Jinpa” and Balloon” was also a screenwriter and professor, is often attributed as a pioneer of the Tibetan New Wave in filmmaking. 

While working within the constraints of the official Chinese film system of script approvals, censorship and release permit, Tsedan’s films masterfully explores a wide range of complex human issues and tell his stories with a unique Tibetan experience and perspective. 

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