Dreams of Tibet could be a recurring theme of last weekend’s official selection at CIFF 2017.

In Pema Tseden (some times credited as Wanma Caidan )’s THARLO (2015), we follow the path of a sympathetic sheep herder, from remote steppes, on a difficult journey to self-discovery.Tharlo, played by unknown Shide Nyima with a shy but strong presence,  is caught between Chinese state bureaucracy (he gets into trouble on the way to take a photo for his identity card ) and Tibetan ancestral ways.

Tseden’s film is obviously Art-house material. It is a drama primarily composed of beautiful long shots in glorious black and white in which cinematographer Lu Songye’s lights and framing are as beautiful as they are effective.

THARLO offers an intimate realistic view of its protagonists and their surroundings. With its slow pace and an overall climax of austerity it requires patience. But it is also a charming tale in which elements of absurdist narrative makes it ultimately rewarding.

We are in for a beautiful and meditative cinematic Art piece.



More ambitious is Zhang Yang’s Paths of the Soul, witnessing the long journey through four seasons of a group of Tibetans on a pilgrimage to Lhasa, the holy capital of Tibet, with over 1,200 miles on foot. Introduced as a docu-drama, this voyage is, in its own ways, the equivalent of our Christian Compostela.

With a great sense for dramatized tension, balancing for its prominent slow pace, Yang’s road movie, made of course of breathtaking panoramas, is a spiritually intense journey on the road to the soul.

Shot like a fictional story, Paths of the Soul cleverly explores issues of community, culture clashes, friendship birth, death, etc. It may be slow paced but it consistently manages to resume its pulse, in exposing the real events, with sharp editorial choices and, obviously, some cleverly made cinematic manipulations.

Paths of the soul is a spirited Cinematic experience.

Note: The CCIFF 2017 festival is still on until Wednesday.  VR are rooms (in Concordia’s EV building) are waiting for you with also numerous other activities, among them (as gala evening tonight) In Pursuit of the General (a Beijing Opera prod in 3D) at 7 PM Cineplex-Forum.