Representations of Tibet in the PRC and Pema Tseden’s Films
The aim of this article is to compare the cinematic representations of Tibet in Chinese Tibet-related cinematography with the first three films made by the Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden (Tib. Pad ma Tshe brtan, Ch. Wanma Caidan 万玛才旦) in an attempt to define “Tibetan films” in contrast to “Tibet-related films,” which are a broader category including films made with no direct or only partial Tibetan participation. I argue that Pema Tseden’s first three feature films should be understood as the first cinematic contributions to be made to modern Tibetan identity-discourse. They present the first genuine Tibetan voices to be heard in the PRC cinema, contesting the images of Tibet, its history, its culture and its people, that have appeared in the officially supported media and mainstream popular culture. Pema Tseden has thus successfully de-constructed the “myth of Shangri-la” that has been misused so many times during recent decades in the name of colonialism and propaganda – both Western and Chinese.
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