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Film review: 'What Remains of Us': A visit to Tibet, the 'biggest prison in the world'

October 26, 2008

By Kevin Thomas
The Chicago Tribune
October 24, 2008

There have been many impressive documentaries on Tibet and the plight
of its people, but none like Francois Prevost and Hugo Latulippe's
"What Remains of Us." Kalsang Dolma—a Tibetan born in exile in India
who immigrated to Canada—visited her ancestral land for the first
time in 1996, accompanied by Prevost and Latulippe. She carried with
her a portable video player carrying a five-minute message from the
Dalai Lama, who has been unable to speak directly to his people for
more than half a century. There's a cruel irony here: His voice,
strong and distinctive, whether he is speaking in English or his
native language, is familiar the world over—except in his own land.

At great risk, Dolma and the filmmakers visited the homes of numerous
Tibetans, some deep in the region's interior. The Dalai Lama offers a
message of hope in the face of hardships and the specter of genocide
under long-oppressive Chinese rule, which has cost the lives of an
estimated 1.2 million Tibetans, with 200,000 more forced into exile.
Within Tibet, thousands of ancient monasteries and sacred places have
been destroyed, and the land has been exploited and polluted. "This
is the biggest prison in the world," Dolma observes.

The Dalai Lama explains that Tibetan spirituality and compassion,
deeply rooted in Buddhism, have become an inspiration for the world,
that these values must be cherished and passed along, and that any
resistance must be nonviolent. Behind the closed doors of their
homes, the Dalai Lama's audiences are moved to tears and speak openly
of their virtually total lack of freedom. Yet as one nun, no longer
allowed to wear her habit, says, "We live on faith and hope. That's
all we have."

Running time: 1:17. Plays Oct. 24-30 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W.
Fullerton Ave.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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