The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) presents one of the most comprehensive and insightful reviews ever done on the critically acclaimed Tibetan feature film Khyi rgan (“Old Dog”), written and directed by Pema Tseten.
Old Dog was screened and discussed at TCHRD’s annual human rights symposium early this year.
In this guest post, scholar and historian Roberto Vitali ruminates on the film’s varied messages along side the tragedy that continues to unfold in the lives and landscapes of the Tibetan plateau under the Chinese, whose “presence are never mentioned” in the film but stays “thick on screen”. Vitali contends that Khyi rgan moves away from the usual anthropological approach to anything Tibetan, avoiding “explanations and erudite posturings” inherent to the anthropological genre. In one of the greatest tributes to Khyi rgyan’s creator, Vitali writes that no one, be it Tibetan or non-Tibetan, has so stunningly depicted Tibet’s tragedy for the Tibetan cinema as Pema Tseten does.
Roberto Vitali is an independent researcher on Tibetan history and literature, and is “deeply taken by [Tibetan] people’s struggle for freedom.” In his own words, Vitali is “like the one in Pema Tseten’s movie, an old dog, who thinks no Chinese will buy him out.”