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55th San Francisco International Film Festival @ BAM/PFA

Friday, April 27, 2012
8:50 p.m. Old Dog
Pema Tseden (China/Tibet, 2011)

In Person/Pema Tseden

(Khyi rgan). Director Pema Tseden is the leading filmmaker in the only-just-emerging New Tibetan Cinema. His absolutely mesmerizing third feature, Old Dog, unfurls on plains some three thousand feet above sea level in the Tibetan region of the Chinese province of Qinghai. It tells the story of an aged sheepherder, his gruff grown son (who’s having trouble conceiving a child with his wife), and the old man’s Tibetan mastiff hound—a highly prized breed, much sought after by urban Chinese—whose existence is imperiled from all sides. An emotionally gripping family story that combines “slow cinema” pacing with limitless vistas (breathtakingly photographed by cinematographer and fellow Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal), Old Dog makes use of those horizon-lines-that-delimit-human-destinies in ways that might have wowed John Ford, even as its portrait of rural anomie amid astonishing scenery takes a completely modern approach to narrative, patiently accumulating detail by telling detail. Its single most “dramatic” moment might just be a five-minute take depicting a sheep’s attempts to rejoin its flock after somehow slipping through a fence.

—Chuck Stephens

• Written by Tseden. Photographed by Sonthar Gyal. With Lochey, Drolma Kyab, Tamdrin Tso, Yanbum Gyal. (88 mins)

Tickets on sale March 30. Online tickets are available through the SFFS ticketing system. Follow the link below and select "buy tickets." BAM/PFA members receive a discount online by using a special promo code. If you are a member and did not receive the code by email, please call (510) 642-1412.

Buy Tickets

Advance tickets March 27–30. BAM/PFA members may purchase advance tickets online between March 27 and 30 by clicking the link below and entering a special promo code. If you are a member and did not receive the code by email, please call (510) 642-1412.

Purchase Advance Member Tickets