Tibet’s Pema Tseden Wraps ‘Snow Leopard’ High Altitude Drama Film

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Pema Tseden, whose last three films have all appeared at the Venice Film Festival, has finished lensing his latest effort “Snow Leopard.” The film is a drama about how humans and animals end up getting along, despite their occasional conflicts.

While Tibet is a source of controversy between China and the international community, ethnically Tibetan Pema Tseden (aka Wanma Caidan) chooses to work within the official Chinese film system of script approvals, censorship and release permits. A former civil servant and teacher, he is sometimes described as a pioneer of the Tibetan New Wave and has credits that include “Silent Holy Stones,” “Jinpa,” and “Balloon.”

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“Snow Leopard” was given a shooting permit in March this year and was filmed in The Three-River Source National Nature Reserve in Maduo County, part of Tibet, which China calls the Xizang Autonomous Region. The average altitude in the reserve is some 5,000 meters (approximately 16,000 feet), making it a haven for wildlife away from mass human intrusion and development.

In 2021, Variety reported that China’s Film Bureau approved Pema Tseden’s screenplay for a film called “Stranger,” in which a man on a Harley Davidson rides around Tibet looking for a woman called Tara. “Snow Leopard” appears to have moved ahead first.

Its story is understood to the concern a conflict between a father and a son after a snow leopard kills nine of a herder’s goats. The son wants to kill the leopard, but the father insists on letting the animal go unharmed.

The human cast include Jinpa, Xiong Ziqi and Tseten Tashi. Cinematography is by Belgium DoP Matthias Delvaux (“The Cloud in Her Room,” “Journey to the West”).

Produced by Zhang Jian, Zhou Hao and Wang Lei, “Snow Leopard” is presented by Great Luck Films, Lead Culture Media, Dzona Pictures and Mani Stone Pictures. No sales agent has yet been attached.

“We are working on the post-production. We plan to finish everything by October, and then start submitting the film to the festivals,” his team told Variety by email.

A conceptual poster was designed by Du Fengsong’s studio DUDO Design, which previously designed the poster for “Balloon.”

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