Stunningly shot on real locations, Song of Tibet is much as its title sounds – a wistful, sometimes clunky melodrama with lots of ethnographic detail that’s a modern take on the ethnic-minority pics that China has cranked out since the ’50s. Helmer/co-scripter Xie Fei’s eye for colorful realism has always been stronger than his grasp of human drama, and this is no exception. Pic centers on a Tibetan woman, Yixizhuoma, and her turbulent marriage to a proud warrior type, Jiacuo, across half a century. Now in her 70s and with Jiacuo dying from lung cancer, Yixizhuoma recalls her story in flashback when visited by her granddaughter from Beijing: how Jiacuo kidnapped her as a young woman, how they fell in love on the flowery plains, how she was separated from her family in the stormy late ’50s, and how she finally found Jiacuo in the mountains in the early ’70s. With 90% of the dialogue in Tibetan, and not a Chinese or any politics in sight, this is escapist melodrama that’s an undemanding time-passer.
Directed by Fei Xie | Starring : Dawangdui, Danzengzhuoga, Laqiong, Renqingdunzhu, Dazhen | Presented at Chicago Film Festival, Pusan Film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, St. Louis Film Festival