4 user 62 critic

Butter Lamp (2013)

La lampe au beurre de yak (original title)
A young itinerant photographer and his assistant photograph Tibetan nomads in front of various backgrounds.




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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 24 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview:
Genden Punstok ...
Le Photographe
Soepha ...
L'assistant / Le Père
Sonam Gonpo ...
Le Jeune Homme
Wangmo Tso ...
La Soeur 1
Kalsang Dolma ...
La Soeur 2
Zirang Lhamo ...
L'enfant (tableau 3)
Gangrong Dorjee ...
Le Marié
Leung Tso ...
La Mariée
Sonam Tashi ...
Le chef du village
Yang Tso ...
La vieille femme


A young photographer and his assistant suggest to Tibetan nomads to take their picture. Against diverse and more or less exotic backgrounds, families appear to the photographer. Through these shots, the photographer will weave unique links with each of the various villagers. Written by Anonymous

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Short | Family


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Release Date:

16 January 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Butter Lamp  »

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Featured in The 87th Annual Academy Awards (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Plot less in the worst possible way
3 March 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Wei Hu's Butter Lamp is a short film that would be the kind of profound statement on culture, a generational divide, or a shifting time period if it actually had something remotely compelling to say. It concerns a photographer and his assistant as the two men work to create photos for families that stand before a large backdrop, which can be chosen from a wide variety of different landmarks and settings. We see old and young people alike stand before the backdrop, pictures snapped, and small talk exchanged for sixteen minutes.

Anyone remember taking a trip to that quirky photography place at the mall with your family and how agonizing it was to stand still for five minutes while all the members in your family had to perfect their poses so they can receive a portrait that will collect dust on your mantle? Imagine watching the first part of that play out in a short film with nothing remotely compelling to say outside of casual small talk between the photographers and those being photographed.

Usually, I can appreciate such low-key craft, but that craft has to have some element of commentary, realism, or humanity within it and Butter Lamp is the very definition of a short with a great idea that isn't carried out in the slightest. Being that this short hails from France/China, is this a commentary on the conflicting generations or the byproduct of "old and new" demographics within the respective countries? Wei Hu never develops the short beyond its basic idea and that makes this entire endeavor incredibly flat and disappointing.

Starring: Genden Punstock. Directed by: Wei Hu.

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