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Dreaming Lhasa
Dreaming Lhasa
Actor: Tenzin Jigme; Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso; Jampa Kalsang
Director: Ritu Sarin; Tenzing Sonam
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2007     1hr 30min

90 minutes, color, Tibetan & English w/English subtitles — * Executive Produced by Richard Gere — DVD Bonus Features: * Making Of Documentary * Interview with Filmmakers * Deleted Scenes * Short Film: Rights and Wrongs * Fil...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Tenzin Jigme; Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso; Jampa Kalsang
Director: Ritu Sarin; Tenzing Sonam
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/18/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Tibetan
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Dreaming in earnest
ShriDurga | 03/24/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A young Tibetan filmmaker from New York in India to produce a documentary on the Tibetan political prisoners remarks on her feelings of displacement in a foreign land that she seems to be "dreaming Lhasa." Karma's imaginary capital city is to this film what the film was to its makers - an object of intense interest just beyond reach.

Wife/husband production team Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making documentary films for more than a decade, with perhaps the idea of a feature film always out there on the edge of their ambition. For untested directors using an untested Indian/Tibetan crew with non-professional actors, they've reaped a remarkable return on their investment in a dream.

The story itself is quite simple, about an exile Tibetan in Dharamsala to make a documentary on the Tibetan diaspora. Karma becomes involved in the quest of one of her subjects, a former political prisoner who has come from Tibet to deliver a sacred object to a man about whom he knows nothing but a name. Together Karma and Dhondup criss-cross northern India chasing clues to the whereabouts of the mysterious Loga. Along the way the viewer is treated to glimpses of life in exile, from the young kids wasting hours in clubs and pool halls, to the more determined seekers of justice involved in hunger strikes and political organizing, to the average person just trying to make a living.

For anyone who has traveled the Himalayas or had intimate contact with exile Tibetan communities, the film has a beautiful ring of verisimilitude. This probably has as much to do with the production crew having been raised in such communities and being able to get the details right as it does to the directorial decision to shoot in documentary style, with no redubbing.

For a bunch of amateurs, the quality of the acting is high, though hardly of the award-winning variety. More than once Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso's performance as Karma evoked a wince, but her earnestness created a reserve of sympathy that couldn't be completely undone. By far the best performance is Jampa Kalsang's staid and world-weary exile, Dhondup, whose quest leads to an anguishing discovery.

If you're tired of Hollywood movies, tired of pretentious North American indie films, you'll be delighted by the sincerity of this little film with a big heart from the Land of Snows.

Lives torn asunder by violence and repression
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 04/17/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)


In "Dreaming Lhasa," a young American filmmaker goes to India to make a documentary on the Tibetan monks who have been living in exile in that country ever since the Chinese invaded their nation and overthrew the Dalai Lama nearly sixty years ago. A Tibetan native herself, Kharma temporarily puts her film on hold so that she can help one of the refugees in the area locate the whereabouts of another monk who disappeared during a protest rally in 1987.

Though "Dreaming Lhasa" feels only half-formed at times in terms of storytelling and characterization, the unhurried, contemplative rhythm of the film nicely captures the flavor of the setting and the nature of the theme. While Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso occasionally lacks projection and confidence as an actress (though at times she is very good), Jampa Kalsang, the actor playing the monk, centers the movie with his quiet stoicism and gravity.

This heartrending subject could probably do with a more passionate treatment, but the quiet serenity of "Dreaming Lhasa" is not without its special rewards as well."
Longing for Home
Lary H. Pearce | Mid-Hudson Valley, New York | 08/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This cinema realistically portrays the plight of first and second generation Tibetan refugees. It shows them as real people who want to preserve their Tibetan cultural and religious heritage in lands to which they have been driven by foreign conquerors. The elderly who have the most profound understanding of of traditional Tibetan civilization are beginning to die off. The young wonder how they are to preserve Tibetan language amid alien cultures. Most Tibetans want to return to Tibet; to do so risks imprisonment, torture, and death. This movie shows the struggle, suffering, and hope in which Tibetans live. It is profoundly moving."
A superbly produced documentary set in the refugee community
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 10/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Dreaming Lhasa" is a superbly produced dramatic feature film set in the refugee community in India comprised of exiled Tibetans who fled the Chinese communist take-over of their native country. In "Dreaming Lhasa", veteran filmmakers, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have created a compelling story of a generation of men and women born into refugees families and who have never seen the country of their parents' origin. This is the story of Tibetan filmmaker Karma traveling from New York to Dharamsala (the Dali Lama's exile headquarters in northern India) to interview political prisoners who have escaped from Tibet. There she meets Dhondup, an enigmatic ex-monk who has come to India to fulfill his dying mother's last wish -- to deliver a charm box to a long-missing resistance fighter. Soon karma finds herself caught up in his quest, which becomes both a journey into Tibet's fractured past and a voyage of self-discovery. "Dreaming Lhasa" is played out in spectacular settings and features compelling images of people and places largely unknown to American audiences. The DVD format allows for the inclusion of such additional features as a 'Making of Documentary'; interviews with the filmmakers, a short film 'rights...& wrongs'; film notes by Human Rights Watch; and directors' notes and biographies. With a running time of 90 minutes, and featuring Tibetan & English with English subtitles, this full color production is very highly recommended viewing and would make a popular addition to any community library DVD film collection.