Hari, a taxi driver in Dharamsala, in northern India, is preparing to take his vows in a marriage arranged by his father. Tradition states that the engaged couple may not see each other prior to their wedding day. However, telephone contact is not proscribed. Hari is thinking about how marriage will change his life and that of his intended, who will – like all Indian girls – leave her own family to become part of her husband’s, as well as how he will perform as a husband and whether he will be able to feed his future children.
A Stranger in my Native Land is the poignant and personal account of Tenzing Sonam’s first-ever visit to his homeland. From the far reaches of Amdo Province, where Tibetans have lost their language, to Lhasa, the heart of the country, the film captures his meetings with long-lost relatives and conveys a sense of the desperation of Tibet as a country under occupation.
Telo Rinpoche, a.k.a. Eddie Ombadykow, is a 21-year-old American whose favourite band is The Smashing Pumpkins. He is also a Buddhist monk who was brought up in a Tibetan monastery in India and recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a high reincarnate lama. Now, he finds himself in his ancestral homeland, Kalmykia, a remote Buddhist republic in southern Russia, where he is revered by the people as their spiritual leader and charged with the responsibility of reviving Buddhism.
Tibet in March 2008. The biggest uprising since China took control in 1959 sweeps through the country. Meanwhile, Tibetans in exile march on their homeland, determined to support their countrymen. This is a year of dramatic possibilities for Tibet. For more than 20 years, the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and political leader, has pursued his Middle Way Approach: giving up the goal of Tibet’s independence in return for genuine autonomy. But China has consistently rejected his proposal. Now, more and more Tibetans are questioning his strategy.
The Tibetan people are well known for being devoutly religious and peace loving. What is less known is that thousands of Tibetans took up arms against the invading forces of Communist China and waged a bitter and bloody guerrilla war. From the mid-1950s until 1969 they were aided in their efforts by an unlikely ally, the CIA. This project, code-named ST CIRCUS, was one of the CIA’s longest running covert operations.
A single-channel video installation, which explores the rarefied world of Tibetan Buddhist debate. Built around three sets of debates dealing with the basic Buddhist concepts of impermanence, lack of self-existence, and dependent-arising, the piece allows the viewer an opportunity to participate in this unique dialectical practice while highlighting its relevance to the modern world.
2010 Busan Biennale Living in Evolution
12 September to 20 November 2010
In 1991, filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam made The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche, which followed the search and discovery of a 4-year-old reincarnated lama, Phara Khenchen Rinpoche. Sixteen years later, the directors revisit the reincarnation at Drepung Monastery in South India. The film offers an intimate look at the life of a young lama as he aspires to live up to the reputation of his former incarnation. It also explores his moving relationship with the two people closest to him, his attendant and his spiritual master, both of whom were connected to him in his previous life.
Choenzey is a 47-year-old monk living in a Tibetan refugee monastery in South India. His spiritual master, Khensur Rinpoche, a revered high lama, has been dead for four years. According to Tibetan belief, he will soon be reincarnated. It is Choenzey’s responsibility, as his closest disciple, to find the reincarnation and to look after him. The film follows Choenzey’s search and his eventual discovery of an impish but gentle 4-year-old boy who is recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan State Oracle to be the reincarnation.
Karma, a Tibetan filmmaker from New York, goes to Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s exile headquarters in northern India, to make a documentary about former political prisoners who have escaped from Tibet. She wants to reconnect with her roots but is also escaping a deteriorating relationship back home.