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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dreaming Lhasa DVD Review

September 15, 2007

Exiled Tibetan Searches for Roots in Road Flick Arriving on DVD

Karma (Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso), a Tibetan-American filmmaker from New York, decides to travel to the Dalai Lama's headquarters in India to reconnect with her roots while making a documentary about former political prisoners. Accompanied by her young local assistant Jigme (Tenzin Jigme), who would love to relocate to the U.S., she negotiates her way around the refugee-filled city of Dharamsala.

There, she finds herself, first, intrigued by and, then, attracted to the recently-arrived Dhonup (Jampa Kalsang), a man on a mission to fulfill his dying mother's last wish to deliver a charm box containing a cyanide pill to a long-lost friend of hers. Karma chooses to join the unorthodox ex-monk on his quest, and a triangle of sorts eventually ensues, with jealous Jigme warning her that Dhonup might only be interested in her for a Green Card marriage.

This is the essence of Dreaming Lhasa, a surprisingly-engaging, semi-autobiographical docudrama written and directed by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, the latter the son of Tibetan emigres. While the movie must have served as sojourn of self-discovery for Mr. Sonam, it simultaneously offers any audience a refreshingly realistic peek into the plight of his displaced people. A warts-and-all characterization which cuts a sharp contrast to the prevailing popular image of Tibet as disembodied, as disseminated by the saintly Dalai Lama.

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
In Tibetan and English with subtitles.
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: First Run Features

DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, "The Making of" featurette, film notes by Human Rights Watch, interview with directors, and a short film entitled "Rights and Wrongs."
judythpiazza@newsblaze.com

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