Summaries of the films : Tibetan Film Festival 2007 — 8 to 14 April

An inconvenient truth

An inconvenient truth

Website: ClimateCrisis.net

From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, An inconvenient truth, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man's fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.

That man is former Vice President Al Gore, who, in the wake of defeat in the 2000 election, re-set the course of his life to focus on a last-ditch, all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change. In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his "travelling global warming show," Gore also proves himself to be one of the most misunderstood characters in modern American public life. Here he is seen as never before in the media — funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our "planetary emergency" out to ordinary citizens before it's too late.

With wit, smarts and hope, An invonvenient truth ultimately brings home Gore's persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue — rather, it is the biggest moral challenges facing our global civilization.

Paramount Classics and Participant Productions present a film directed by Davis Guggenheim, An inconvenient truth. Featuring Al Gore, the film is produced by Laurie David, Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns. Jeff Skoll and Davis Guggenheim are the executive producers and the co-producer is Leslie Chilcott.

We corner people

Hami kuna ko maanche — "We corner people"

Foot-trails are sometimes the only link between people in Nepal's hills. Monsoon-fed rivers often destroy these fragile links, and they take life.

In the last few decades, a few thousand trail bridges have been built by local communities with government and Helvetas support. Now, a bridge comes to a remote Tamang village in Rasuwa District.

The bridge will make life easier for villagers; and it will placate fear. One of the rivers straddling the village swept away a young bride when it inexplicably swelled. The event haunts the village.

These people call themselves 'corner' people. No settlement lies beyond their high hills. The poorest among them are sub-subsistence; there is no electricity, and not a single shop. Children attend a 3-room school that goes up only to class 3; after that they must walk 4 hours daily. Villagers walk that distance just to buy chili or salt and to sell their bamboo weaving, their only means of a cash income.

When development comes to such a remote place, there is bound to be conflict. Eliciting peoples' participation to empower them when the community is too poor to help itself represents a huge test and new ground.

The film depicts a village whose turn it is to get a suspension bridge — but we in the centre will be astonished and moved by the challenge of development when confronting a condition of grinding poverty but of no lesser complexity.

 

Milarepa

Website: MilarepaFilm.com

Milarepa depicts the humble beginnings of the man who was to become Tibet's greatest saint.

A true story based on centuries-old oral traditions: a youthful Milarepa is propelled into a world of sorrow and betrayal after his father's sudden death. Destitute and hopeless,he sets out to learn black magic — and exact revenge on his enemies — encountering magicians, demons, an enigmatic teacher and unexpected mystical power along the way. But it is in confrontation with the consequences of his anger that he learns the most.

Photographed in the stunning Lahaul-Spiti region of Northern India, Milarepa offers a provocative parallel to the cycle of violence and retribution we see consuming today's world.

 

Miss Tibet

Website: MissTibet.com

The Miss Tibet pageant is held every year in Mcleod Ganj, India, the seat of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. The film shows this thrilling pageant with only one participant in 2005! It is a story of the contrast between modern life and an ancient culture in exile.

A noble effort

A noble effort

The film depicts His Holiness the Dalai Lama's "noble effort" in preserving Tibet's culture, tradition and heritage through the makers of the future Tibet.

Through these little angels "Tibetan identity" is kept alive untouched by the wild world.

In the hills of Himachal Pradesh, India, groups of Tibetan Children are learning to preserve their rich, vibrant culture and heritage. Their perseverance and determination have led them to materialize their dreams of performing their arts before His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Kekexili Mountain Patrol

Kekexili Mountain Patrol

Kekexili Mountain Patrol is a film inspired by a people's remarkable mission surrounding the illegal Tibetan antelope poaching in the region of Kekexili, the largest animal reserve in China.

The story is brought to the screen with great detail by director Lu Chuan. Set against the exquisite backdrop of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in the remote Hoh Kil (Kekexili) region, which lies across the borders of Western China, Tibet and Uygur, Chuan tells the tale of brave local Tibetans who face death and starvation to save the endangered antelope herds from a band of ruthless hunters.

The Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival was awarded to the film in 2004 and it won the Best Picture award at the 2004 Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan.

Tsampa to Pizza

Tsampa to Pizza

Tsampa to Pizza Tenzin and Dhondup, both in their early twenties are the embodiment of today's Tibetan youth, who have carefree souls and are clueless about their lives.

Being in college, young and living in urban India, they too are frivolous, want to chill and are looking around for the hip and mundane things of life.

Born to exile parents in India, they have learned to accept and adapt the ways of their host country.

An encounter with a former political prisoner and Indian supporters for a free Tibet brings Tenzin back to his roots.

Tsampa (the staple Tibetan diet of roasted barley flour) to pizza is about Tenzin's journey to find his true identity. Aware and awakened, Tenzin brings together all the little pieces of this puzzle to discover his true self.

Sacred Tibet

Sacred Tibet — The path to Mount Kailash

Website: SacredTibetFilm.com

Sacred Tibet — The Path To Mount Kailash follows Paul Horn and Lama Tenzin's pilgrimage into Tibet, ending at the holy Mount Kailash.

Kris Kristofferson narrates and the late Gardner McKay co-scripted this story of a journey to "the Roof of the World" by world-renowned flutist Paul Horn and Maui's own Lama Tenzin. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also featured in this award-winning documentary, filmed on two harrowing visits to Chinese-occupied Tibet.

The first occasion was inspired by Lama Tenzin's wish to return to the homeland he had fled as a 22-year-old Buddhist monk. Tibet has changed dramatically since the Chinese invasion of 1949, and not for the better: an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans have died and all but 13 of the country's 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed. Yet Lama Tenzin had reason to risk a return: to find his family he had not seen in more than 40 years.

"As we entered Tibet ... we were very conscious of the danger," recounts Paul Horn. "Refugees advised Lama Tenzin to wear western clothes and not to speak Tibetan in public. We were not to mention our plans to film a documentary. Several weeks earlier, a Tibetan had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for videotaping local folk dancers."

Horn's own quest was to play his flute in the legendary Potala Palace, an architectural marvel built in the 1600s, and once the winter home of the Dalai Lamas.

Sacred Tibet chronicles the realization of these dreams, and after Lama Tenzin's death, follows the 71-year-old Horn on a second journey; a pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash, a holy place venerated by four religions and billions of people, yet visited by only a hardy few. Horn brings us along, amid peaks and passes 15,000 to 19,000 feet high, in honor of his friend. The program ends with His Holiness the Dali Lama commenting on Tibet and the current situation under Chinese rule.

The Joy of living

The Joy of living

The Joy of Living is a documentary film about the life story of Ani Sonam Tsering, an elderly Tibetan Buddhist nun in Mcleod Ganj. Her home, a small shack, has become an abode of street dogs. Unlike other Tibetan nuns, neither is she clad in traditional maroon robes nor does she spend long hours saying prayers.

The film explores the founding of a relationship between Ani (nun) and the dogs. She has devoted her life to the service of these dogs for more than three decades. Her love and compassion on these poor animals leads to the adoption, which ultimately transformed her own life.

Apart from the arising social challenges due to her pack of dogs, she now suffers the economic poverty at her old age. She still goes out to collect scraps from different homes, restaurants and wedding parties for the dogs. But this abode of dogs got completely destroyed during a sad fire accident of Ani's home in December 2005.

Does anybody come to salvage Ani and her dogs? Her Karma becomes the saviour. The film is an attempt to inspire the inborn nature of human love and compassion to other sentient beings.

Walking on the wild side

Walking on the Wild Side

Director Han Jie sets the story in his native province of Shanxi in Northwest China, where coal mines sprang up all over the place during the nineties. The main character is also called Han Jie (the director's alter ego, he based the film largely on his own experiences) and grows up in this heavily polluted area, where most of the young men engage in petty crimes, like gambling and stealing.

The young Han soon becomes a victim of the youth gang of Xiaosi, basically a bunch of feeble-minded idiots who spend most of their day harassing school boys for their money, when they're not drunk or raping girls. When Han's cousin Xiping teaches Xiaosi and his "Gang of the Four Stars" a lesson, the gang members vow revenge, forcing him and Han to flee town.

Kadrin: a journey to success

Kadrin: a journey to success

Website: DerabFilms.com

Kadrin: a journey to success is a short film based on the true-life story of Ngawang Samdup, who struggles to fulfil his dream of getting a decent education and to be a good citizen of Tibet. It's a heart-rending story of Samdup's twenty years exile in India and separation from his family. In the meantime his beloved father passes away in Tibet. Samdup's only recourse is to pray for his deceased father.

He is one of the few lucky ones who eventually meet his mother in Nepal after decades of silence and anxious wait.

There are hundreds of Tibetans who have neither met nor heard from family members since they left Tibet. Kadrin: a journey to success in essence depicts stories of every estranged Tibetan children, their torment and their hopes.

Me-tse

Me-tse

How long could a father work and bring up his children is the central theme of the movie Me-tse.

During the early years of Tibetans' life in exile in India, many of them had a hard time fighting poverty and other related issues. Me-tse is the story of one such family, Jamyang's — with his wife Dolma and two sons Londhen and Gonpo.

Jamyang runs a noodle factory partially owned by his colleague Phuntsok. The money he makes out of this business is so meagre that it is sufficient only for daily living expenses. He works extra hours to earn more and save for his sons' future.

Londhen, the elder son, is not so bright in studies. He discontinues his studies and joins a tailoring institute with the help of Jamyang's financial assistance. The younger son Gonpo is good at his studies so he gets a place in an engineering college.

The remaining story deals with how the future of the two sons develops, and how they handle the responsibility of taking care of their old father.

 

Democracy in Exile: Tibet at crossroads

Website: TibetanFilms.com

This documentary film studies the two major options the exile Tibetans are struggling to achieve — to regain an independent Tibet or autonomy for Tibetans through a Middle Way approach. The film also studies what role India can play in the Tibetan struggle.

 

The Road to Guantánamo

Website: RoadToGuantanamoMovie.com

In 2001, four Pakistani Britons, Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul and another friend, Monir, travel to Pakistan for a wedding and in an urge of idealism, decide to see the situation of war torn Afghanistan, which is being bombed by the American forces in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Once there, with the loss of Monir in the wartime chaos, they are captured by Northern Alliance fighters. They are then handed them over to the American forces who transport them to the prison camps at the Guantánamo Bay base in Cuba.

What follows is three years of relentless imprisonment, interrogatoins and torture to make them submit to blatantly wrong confessions to being terrorists. In the midst of this abuse, the three struggle to keep their spirits up in that face of this grave injustice.

 

Making the dream: Behind the Scenes of Dreaming Lhasa

Website: DreamingLhasa.com

In 2003, veteran documentary filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam embarked upon their first feature film, Dreaming Lhasa, which had its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival and has since screened in over 30 film festivals worldwide.

In the absence of anything approaching a Tibetan film industry, Ritu and Tenzing literally had to start from scratch, using non-professional actors for the most part, and working in a semi-documentary style in real locations and situations with an Indian and Tibetan crew.

Photographer Tenzin Dorjee, who was the Associate Producer of the film, along with several crew members, captured some of the unforgettable behind-the-scenes moments. Up-and-coming filmmaker, Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, who also worked on the film, edited this footage into a wonderful look at how the film was made.


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