Hong Kong-based sales company Asian Shadows has picked up world rights (outside Greater China) to Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s Tharlo, which will receive its world premiere in Venice’s Orizzonti section.

Adapted from Pema Tseden’s novel, the film follows a 40-year-old Tibetan shepherd, who can recite Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book from memory, but whose quiet life changes when he is asked to go to the city to have his photo taken for his first ID card.

The film, which premieres in Venice on September 4, has also been selected for Busan’s Window on Asian Cinema section. It was produced by Beijing-based Heaven Pictures, which also produced Berlinale title River Road and Kaili Blues, which premiered in Locarno.

“Tharlo is typical of Tibetans of the present generation,” said Pema Tseden. “This is a story that shows them in a state of confusion, disorientation and desensitization. The film is in black-and-white as the ruggedness in the images speaks of the situation and ambience of the vast lands of Tibet, and of the state of being of the protagonist, Tharlo.”

Asian Shadows has also sold Wang Bing’s Three Sisters and Til Madness Do Us Part to Icarus Films for North America, marking the first time the director’s films will receive a North American theatrical release. Wang Bing’s previous works screened in festivals and special programmes. 

Three Sisters won best film in the Orizzonti section at Venice in 2012, best film at Doc Lisboa, best film and the audience award at France’s Three Continents Festival, best documentary in the Muhr AsiaAfrica section at Dubai International Film Festival and best film at Fribourg IFF.

Icarus Films has previously distributed films from directors such as Jean Rouch and Patricio Guzman and works with Chinese independent filmmakers through the dGenerate Films collection.

“The founding of dGenerate Films was inspired in part by Wang Bing’s visionary and rigorous documentaries. We feel urgently that his films, which offer an unflinching look at certain deep truths of life in China, deserve as wide an audience as possible,” said Icarus Films’ Karin Chien.

Asian Shadow’s slate at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) also includes Zhang Yang’s Paths Of The Soul, which receive its world premiere in TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema section.