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Dubbed movies spice up life for Tibetans

2013-02-28 15:24:01



For Tibetan herder Palzin in northwest China, seeing a hit movie used to mean a 140-km trip to the nearest city. But during the Tibetan New Year, he was able to watch one on his own TV.

"CZ12," an action movie directed by Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, hit the Chinese mainland's screens in December. It was soon translated and dubbed in the Tibetan language, and shown on local TV in Tibetan-inhabited areas.

"This is the first time that a recently-released movie has appeared on our TV," said 41-year-old Palzin from Siheji village in Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai Province.

"It's like the theater has moved to my home, making the New Year even more festive," he said.

According to the Tibetan calendar, the New Year this year fell on Feb. 11 and celebrations last for 15 days.

Tibetan-dubbed TV plays and galas are also shown across communities in provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, as well as Tibet autonomous region.

In China, dialects of the Tibetan language is spoken by around 6 million people.

"Shows of such kinds have not only spiced up life for Tibetan people, but also contributed to the popularization and inheritance of their languages," said Konchokgya, researcher with the school of ethnic studies under Tibet's academy of social sciences.

The Tibet Autonomous Region Film Company is one of the first in the region to dub movies in Tibetan.

Between the 1960s and 2000, the company dubbed 25 to 30 movies per year, and the annual figure has increased by 5 to 10 since 2000, according to its manager Losang Chophel.

In 2012, a record high of 75 dubbed movies were shown on TV, he said.

These movies have been quite well-received among farming and herding families, who have comparatively limited access to newly-released blockbusters.

"Being able to watch the latest movies makes us feel relevant to the outside world," said Kelsang, a herder from Gyaca county of Tibet's Shannan Prefecture. "It pleases us in particular that they are dubbed in our own language."

An increasing number of TV programs and series are also broadcast in the Tibetan language.

Figures from the Tibetan language working committee showed that 17 Tibetan-language TV shows are now aired on screen throughout the day, entertaining viewers and informing them of the latest news, and farming and herding technologies.

In 2012, around 1,300 hours of TV plays were dubbed and broadcast in the Tibetan language, figures showed.

As more movies and TV shows made in other languages find their way to households, those about Tibetans' history, life and culture gain increasing nationwide popularity.

In January, a TV show narrating the ups and downs of four noble Tibetan families from mid-1930s to late 1950s was aired on China Central Television during prime time.

TV shows and movies of this kind cater to the need of other ethnic groups to learn about the Tibetan culture, so they do have their place in the market, said Zhang Huijun, president of the Beijing Film Academy.

"The Tibetan language and culture, which are legacies from ancestors, will never be extinct as long as there are people using and studying them," said Konchokgya, a researcher from Tibet.