The Sun Beaten Path


Tai Yang Zong Zai Zuo Bian

A moving, simple tale of a troubled young man’s spiritual pilgrimage and an old man’s determination to rekindle his will to live.

Director: Sonthar Gyal
Year: 2011
Country: China
Running time: 86 mins
Censor Rating: PG - adult themes

Screenplay: Sonthar Gyal
Producers: Sonthar Gyal, Li Xing, Lu Yuanyuan, Sangye
Photography: Wang Meng
Editors: Sonthar Gyal, Qian Lengleng
Music: Dukar Tserang
In Tibetan and Mandarin, with English subtitles

With: Yeshe Lhadruk (Nyma), Lo Kyi (old man), Kalzang Rinchen (brother), Lhakyed Ma (mother), Rekdsen Drolma (sister-in-law), Yangshou Tso (Nima’s fiancée), Gonbo (truck driver), Tandren Kyed (hotel receptionist)

Festivals: Locarno, Vancouver, London 2011

Dragons & Tigers Award, Vancouver International Film Festival 2011

In this spare, affecting film from Tibet, Nyma, a young man racked with guilt (for reasons that are gradually divulged), makes a penitent pilgrimage to Lhasa. Making his way home, he finds his burden undiminished, and continues to punish himself, making the long journey through desert heat (and below-zero nights) by foot. His steps are dogged by an old man who disrupts his own journey to take care of him and maybe rekindle his will to live. First-time director Sonthar Gyal is an experienced cinematographer and the arid landscapes are rendered with graphic vitality. — BG

“This superb debut feature suggests that the New Tibetan Cinema is upon us… Nyma’s arduous journey through guilt and grief is also, of course, a spiritual journey: a search for understanding about life and death. Sonthar Gyal had a nomadic upbringing before teaching art and studying film. He learned his lessons well, including the life lessons.” — Tony Rayns, London Film Festival

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