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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Oscar nomination for Tibet-themed film, ‘The Butter Lamp”

January 19, 2015

By Richard Propes

The Independent Critic, January 15, 2015 - Among the 10 films shortlisted by the Academy for the 2015 best live-action short Oscar, Hu Wei's Butter Lamp has already won a slew of festival awards and is capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide with its unique, heartfelt, and inspired presentation that simply must leave a smile on your face after you've watched it.

The 15-minute short film centers around a young itinerant photographer and his assistant who convince Tibetan nomads to allow themselves to be photographed in front of various backgrounds.

That's it. Seriously.

You know what? It's amazing.

Butter Lamp has been accurately described as poetic and meditative and, indeed, it is very much these things. The film possesses a joy-filled simplicity, a serenity and an almost awe-inspiring innocence that is simply breathtaking from its opening frames until its very end. Hu Wei, born in Bejing and now dividing his time between Beijing and Paris, has crossed cultures and timelines within the short span of a 15-minute short film that captures these Tibetan nomads, played by actual Tibetan nomads, in a way I'm not sure I've ever actually seen on the big screen.

Jean Legrand and Stephane Degieau's lensing is intimate yet universal, while the characters that Wei has chosen to portray are uniformly compelling and nothing short of mesmerizing. Wisely, Wei avoids any unnecessary distractions in what is only his third short film. After watching this film, I'm grateful to learn that Wei is already hard at work on his very first feature film.

With over 200 film festival appearances and 70 festival awards, Butter Lamp sheds light on culture in a way that is simple yet extraordinary. With the power of the images that unfold, Butter Lamp creates a road to better understanding.

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