Venerable director Pema Tseden passes away, ‘pioneer’ of Tibetan language film
Published: May 08, 2023 07:04 PM
Pema Tseden Photo: Sina Weibo

Pema Tseden Photo: Sina Weibo

Venerable Chinese filmmaker Pema Tseden passed away on Monday due to a sudden illness at the age of 54, media reported the same day. The ethnic Tibetan director, screenwriter and writer was often hailed as a "pioneer" of Tibetan language film.

"Pema Tseden, a professor at the China Academy of Art, passed away in Xizang Autonomous Region early Monday morning after a failed medical treatment for a sudden illness. Given the suddenness of the incident, our school will assist the family of Mr. Pema Tseden to deal with follow-up matters. Relevant information will be announced in due time," the China Academy of Art said in a statement on Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, he sent a message on WeChat to young Tibetan director Gegyal Jena, congratulating him for winning an award at the Indian International Short Film Festival with his film Gift.

The hashtag "Pema Tseden passed away" quickly began trending on Chinese social media on Monday afternoon as netizens and filmmakers expressed their condolences. 

"We are deeply saddened about director Pema Tseden's death. It is a great loss for the world of film. Our condolences to his family and friends," a film critic surnamed Xiao told the Global Times on Monday.

"Pema Tseden was an outstanding representative of the Chinese film industry and an important figure in international film. His films have not only won wide recognition at home and abroad, but also made outstanding contributions to the inheritance and development of Tibetan culture… We believe that the spirit and films of Pema Tseden will remain in people's hearts forever, inspiring more young people to inherit and carry forward Tibetan culture, and make greater contributions to the diversified development of Chinese culture," the Qinghai-Tibetan Research Institute posted on Sina Weibo to pay tribute to the director.

Pema Tseden was born in Northwest China's Qinghai Province in December 1969. A graduate of Northwest Minzu University and the Beijing Film Academy, he was also a successful writer. Since 1991, he had successively published more than 40 short stories and novelettes in both Tibetan and the national language.

Pema Tseden's debut film The Silent Holy Stones has won many awards.

His credits also include Jinpa, which won best screenplay when it premiered in the Horizons section of the Venice film festival in 2018.