Program Detail

Sun Beaten Path

Sonthar Gyal / China / 2011 / 89 min / Tibetan, Mandarin with English subtitles / Color


This superb debut feature by the cinematographer of Pema Tseden’s last two films, The Search and Old Dog, suggests that the New Tibetan Cinema is upon us. It’s a sort of road movie, focused on an obviously disturbed young man who’s traveling from Lhasa back to his isolated home near Golmud. Nyma finds the bus “too fast” so he gets off to walk instead, thereby exposing himself to blistering heat by day and extreme cold at night, not to mention sheer exhaustion. Worse, he persistently rejects friendly overtures from an old man, who sacrifices his own comfort and convenience to watch over the boy for much of the way. We find out fairly soon what’s wrong with Nyma: some time ago he used a small farm vehicle to pick up his mother from the bus but managed to overturn it on the way home, killing a family member in the accident. 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 (who dedicates the film to his own late father) had a nomadic upbringing before teaching art and studying film. He learned his lessons well, including the life lessons.

-Tony Rayns Vancouver International Film Festival

Co-presenter: International Buddhist Film Festival (3/10), Tibetan Association of Northern California TANC (3/11)


  • Director: Sonthar Gyal
  • Executive Producer: Li Jinyang
  • Producer: Xu Feng, Li Xing, Lu Yuanyuan, Sonthar Gyal
  • Editor: Sonthar Gyal
  • Cast: Yeshe Lhadruk, Lo Kyi, Kalzang Rinchen, Lhakyed Ma


March 10, 2012 8:30 pm
Pacific Film Archive Theater
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March 11, 2012 4:30 pm
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
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