Ottawa Tibet Film Festival 2016 Films

Title:Singing in diaspora” (11 min)

Director: Sabchu Rimpoche 2015.

Documentary. The struggles of a young Tibetan-Canadian activist over the span of three months, as she fights to maintain her cultural identity in a diasporic community.

Title: Embrace” (50 min)

Directors: Dan Smyer Yu and Pema Tashi

2011. Ethnographic documentary. Through the narratives of a father and a son, this film illustrates both the transcendental and inter-sentient dimensions of Tibetan sacred sites and of their ecological significance. It documents a ritualized relationship of people and the place of their dwelling and natural surroundings.

Title: “Pad yatra, A Green Odyssey” (72 min)

Director: Wendy J.N. Lee

2013. Documentary. Viewers are invited to join the adventure of 700 people, trekking across the Himalayas with a call to save the planet’s “3rd Pole,” a glacial region now devastated by the climate chaos associated with global warming.

Title– “Plundering Tibet” (25 min)

Director: Michael Buckley

2014. Documentary. A personal take on mining in Tibet. How much can an ecosystem take before it collapses? Plundering Tibet is a short documentary about the dire consequences of China’s ruthless mining in Tibet. As a Canadian filmmaker, the narrator has a personal take on this because of the involvement of Canadian companies in mining in Tibet-and the railway to Lhasa.

Title: “Kekexili, the Mountain Patrol”. (90 min).

Director: Chuan Lu .

2004. Fiction A moving true story about volunteers protecting antelope against poachers in the severe mountains of Tibet.


2015 Films:

Title: Bringing Tibet Home (2013) | 82 minutes

Director: Tenzin Tsetan Choklay

Language: Tibetan, English

Synopsis: When New York based Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol’s father passes away in exile with an unfulfilled wish to take his last breath in Tibet, Tenzing realizes that his father’s dream to return home to his lost nation is shared by all exiles. Driven by this realization, the artist embarks on a mission to reunite the Tibetan land with its people, literally, through an art project that involves smuggling 20,000 kilograms of native Tibetan soil to India.

Title: The Hunter & The Skeleton (2012) | 26 minutes

Director: Gentsu Gyatso

Language: Tibetan with English subtitles

Synopsis: This colourful Eastern Tibetan folk tale is a wonderful combination of thangka (traditional Tibetan paintings with embroidery) and a score that combines native Tibetan music with modern influences.

While out on an excursion in the mountains a Tibetan hunter encounters a skeleton demon. Unsure whether the skeleton is friend or foe, the hunter soon becomes the hunted in this surreal landscape.

Title: Tulku (2009) | 75 minutes

Director: Gesar Mukpo

Language: English

SynopsisTulku is a documentary film about young people caught between the modern culture they were born into and the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture from which they were reborn. They are Western tulkus ‐ all of them recognized when they were children as reincarnations of great Tibetan Buddhist masters. Filmmaker Gesar Mukpo is one of them. In this film, he sets out to meet others like him ‐ young people struggling between modern and ancient, East and West.

Title: Valley of the Heroes (2013) | 54 minutes

Director: Khashem Gyal

Language: Tibetan and Chinese with English subtitles

Synopsis: In many Tibetan communities, the loss of Tibetan language has reached a crisis level. An elder generation is passing away, leaving behind fewer young Tibetans who can understand their own native language, and Chinese is now the dominant language of business and education.

Valley of the Heroes documents one such community in Hualong County, located in Qinghai Province, China, at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Hualong’s name is derived from Tibetan meaning “Valley of the Heroes”, and today it is recognized as one of the most vulnerable places for Tibetan language and culture. More than 30% of Tibetans living there are unable to speak any Tibetan at all.

Through the voices of farmers and townspeople, young children and the elderly, Valley of the Heroes renders a timely portrait of a community experiencing radical cultural and linguistic shifts. Amid these changes, a group of young Tibetans from Qinghai Nationalities University has set out to revive Tibetan language by teaching it to school children and enjoying with Dancefestopia tickets. Valley of the Heroes documents their undertaking, shedding important light on the challenges and successes in the effort to preserve Tibetan culture.

Title: The Search (2009) | 105 minutes

Director: Pema Tseden

Language: Tibetan with English subtitles

Tickets: Cheap Dancefestopia Tickets

Synopsis: A director, his assistant, and a businessman drive through the Amdo region of Tibet, scouring small villages to find actors for their adaptation of thenamthar of Drime Kunden, an opera traditionally performed for the Tibetan New Year, that tells the story of a prince-an early incarnation of Buddha-who gives away all his possessions, his wife and children, and even his own eyes.

Driving through the country’s stunning landscapes, the crew meets frustration in their search for actors who can live up to the legendary roles. They find that while many of the traditions they would like to film have persisted, others are disappearing.

Directed by Pema Tseden, whose SILENT HOLY STONES was China’s first Tibetan-language film, THE SEARCH reveals a contemporary Tibet where the ancient and the modern co-exist.

The film is framed by two love stories. In the first village they visit, the team discovers the perfect actress to play Made Zangmo, Drime Kunden’s wife, but she will not perform unless her ex-boyfriend, who has left the village for a job in the city, plays the lead. The crew consents, and brings her along to find him. Along the way, the businessman tells the story of his first love. This moving account entertains the crew between stops in the villages, and captivates the otherwise quiet actress.

OTFF 2014 Films and Documentaries


“I cry, weep and feel a strong sense of faith each time I read or hear the story of Milarepa, the great yogi of Tibet”
— the Dalai Lama

This Historical Fiction depicts the humble beginnings of the 11th century man who was to become Tibet’s greatest saint. The movie, directed by Neten Chokling, tells the story of a youthful Milarepa, 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. But his journey will eventually bring him from revenge to enlightenment. The stunning cinematography of the Spiti Valley, close to the border between India and Tibet, serves as background to this magnificent film which will acquaint you with one of Tibet’s most famous yogi and poet.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Ian Prattis, professor at Carleton University, Zen teacher and founder of Friends of Peace.

Runtime: 90 min

The Tibet Within (2013)

Occupied by China in 1949, Tibetans are now a minority in their own country, struggling to preserve their culture, language and identity. Outside Tibet, more than 150 000 Tibetans live in exile. The Tibet within, an independent Canadian documentary directed by Eva Cirnu, is dedicated to showing the struggle for the preservation of the Tibetan culture and identity of the thousands of Tibetans  in exile. Through powerful images and moving interviews, the documentary pays homage to the Tibetans’ courage and determination. It presents their efforts to preserve their art, language and religion, while denouncing the constant violation of human rights in Tibet.

The documentary will be followed by a discussion with volunteers and newly arrived Tibetans from the Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa.

Summer Pasture (2010)

In recent years, growing pressures from the outside world have posed unprecedented challenges for Tibe

tan nomads. Rigid government policies, rangeland degradation, and the allure of modern life have prompted many nomadic families to leave the pastures for permanent settlement in towns and cities. According to nomads, the world has entered duegnan – dark times. Summer Pasture, directed by Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo, is an independent documentary that chronicles one summer with a young family amidst this period of great uncertainty. The documentary shows the family at a critical time in their lives, as they question their future as nomads, confronted with rapid modernization.

Summer Pasture won numerous awards, including the Inspiration Award at the full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2010, and the Visual Achievement Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in 2011.

Runtime: 85 mins

Scents of Juniper (2012)

After following Tsering Dorjee, Tibetan actor and folk artist for about six months with a camera, filmmaker Tashi Wangchuk comes out with a beautifully compiled film about displaced Tibetans in exile, ‘Scent of Juniper’. SoJ is a real life story about Tsering Dorjee and his initiative in passing down centuries old Tibetan literature and performing arts that is being wiped out inside Tibet to younger generation Tibetans in exile. Other than writing, cinematography and direction, Tashi also edited the film. Tibetan singer and musician Tenzin Chogyal and reputed German musician Henrik Airaksinen contributed scores to the film. Recently SoJ is chosen as the winner of the Rising Star Awards at the 2014 Canada International Film Festival that will be held on March 28 and 29, 2013, in Vancouver, Canada.



The Silent Holy Stones (2013)

Filmmaker Pema Tseden, the son of Tibetan nomads and the first director to film entirely in the Tibetan language, makes award-winning films that meditate on the meaning of culture and tradition in contemporary life. The Silent Holy Stones is his first fictional movie. Filmed in and around Guwa Monastery in the Amdo region, the film follows a young lama assigned for Tibetan New Year to attend to the seven-year-old Living Buddha (tulku) of a mountain monastery. The young lamas try to balance their strict training with explorations of the outside world through the novelty of television, and make some surprising choices.  This film has received numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Changchun Film Festival and the Best Director Award at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Runtime: 98 min

Angry Monk (2005)

This historical fiction directed by Luc Shaedler is a road-movie and a time-travel in the footsteps of the rebellious Tibetan

monk Gendun Choephel, an unorthodox monk who left the monastic life in 1934 in search of a new challenge. A free spirit and multifaceted individual, he was far ahead of his time and has since become a seminal figure, a symbol of hope for a free Tibet. A rebel and voluble critic of the establishment, Gendun Choephel kindled the anger of the Tibetan authorities. This cinematic journey reveals a face of old and present-day Tibet that goes against popular clichés. The film makes an abundance of unique and rare historical footage available to the general public for the first time, as it skilfully oscillates between tradition and modernity. Angry Monk offers a fascinating insight into a country whose eventful past is refracted in the multiplicity and contradictions of everyday life.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Brian Given, associate professor at Carleton University (Sociology and Anthropology)

Runtime: 97 min

OTFF 2013 Films and Documentaries

Title: Tibet: Terre des Braves (Tibet: Land of the Brave)

Director: Geneviève Brault

Language: French with English Subtitles

Film Synopsis:

A cinematic journey to one of the most remote places on the planet, Tibet: Land of the Brave transports the audience into the everyday lives of Tibetan herders, seen through the eyes of Gyamtso, Marijo and their daughter, Yangchen.  Following this Tibetan-Canadian couple, who are expecting their second child in Tibet’s snowy mountains, Tibet: Land of the Brave explores how China’s radical turn toward a market economy has devastating effects on the nomadic lifestyle.

Title: Old Dog

Director: Pema Tseden

Language: Tibetan with English Subtitles

Film Synopsis:

Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden fills his extraordinary third film with emotional allegory, conjured by the sights and sounds of rural China. Old Dog opens as middle-aged Gonpo slowly arrives in town on a scooter with his faithful Tibetan mastiff trotting alongside. During his visit, he sells the dog to a Chinese trader who specializes in procuring mastiffs for wealthy landowners as status symbols. s father, Akhu, is disturbed by his son’s lack of regard for their dog and purchases the animal back, initiating the simple story line, which revolves largely around the dog’s destiny and the familial dynamics between Gonpo and Akhu.

Tseden’s film is rich with commentary on the evolving conflict within Tibetan culture, most clearly seen through Akhu’s struggle to respect his dog and perhaps his own rural existence; a way of life that is quickly giving way to a faster-paced mainland culture that his son more easily welcomes. Old Dog’s highly observant narrative reveals artistic insight into the current challenges facing Tibetans, gently moving toward a final tragic sequence that epitomizes Akhu’s conflicted view of his culture’s future.

Title: Tibet in Song

Director: Ngawang Choephel

Language: English

Film Synopsis:

Tibet in Song is both a celebration of traditional Tibetan folk music and a harrowing journey into the past fifty years of cultural repression inside Chinese controlled Tibet. Director and former Tibetan political prisoner, Ngawang Choephel, weaves a story of beauty, pain, brutality and resilience, introducing Tibet to the world in a way never before seen on film.

The beauty of traditional Tibetan folk music is showcased through a variety of working songs, songs about family and the beauty of the land. These rarely seen performances are deftly juxtaposed against startling footage of the early days of the Chinese invasion and a concise explanation of the factors leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in 1959. Ngawang Choephel sets the stage for a unique exploration of the Chinese impact on Tibetans inside Tibet.

What follows is a heartbreaking tale of cultural exploitation and resistance, which includes Ngawangs’ own eventual imprisonment for recording the very songs at the center of the film. Tibet in Song provides raw and uncensored look at Tibet as it stands today, a country plagued by Chinese brutality, yet willing to fight for the existence of its unique cultural heritage.

Tibet in Song is directed by Ngawang Choephel, and contains both original music composed by Ngawang himself, and an array of traditional folk songs sung by native Tibetans.

Title: When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun

Director: Dirk Simon

Language: English

Film Synopsis:

Why hasn’t Tibet been freed? Who is keeping the movement from going forward? From director Dirk Simon, When The Dragon Swallowed The Sun is a groundbreaking documentary that examines these questions in a quest to understand why the world is still dealing with unsettled issues like the Tibetan cause and what can really be done to eradicate them.

Seven years in the making, When The Dragon Swallowed The Sun is the first inside look at the Tibetan movement to free Tibet from Chinese occupation, its internal conflicts and contradictions. The combination of full HD footage from India, China, Tibet and the US along with a prologue narrated by Dennis Haysbert and an original soundtrack by Philip Glass, Thom Yorke and Damien Rice make this the first film that presents the complexity of the struggle with such emotional impact. The film features Richard Gere, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 14th Dalai Lama, the newly crowned 18th descendant of the Great Religious Kings of Tibet, some of the most prominent Chinese contemporary artists, and all the key figures of the exiled Tibetan freedom movement and their followers.

Title: My Reincarnation

Director: Jennifer Fox

Language: English

Film Synopsis:

Filmed over twenty years by acclaimed documentarian Jennifer Fox (FLYING: CONFESSIONS OF A FREE WOMAN), MY REINCARNATION chronicles the epic story of the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his western-born son, Yeshi. The film follows Namkhai Norbu’s rise to greatness as a Buddhist teacher in the West, while his son, Yeshi, recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, breaks away from his father’s tradition to embrace the modern world. Can the father convince his son to keep the family’s threatened spiritual legacy alive? Never before has a high Tibetan Master allowed such complete access to his private life and it is doubtful that another ever will. With her signature intimate entry to both family and icons including the Dalai Lama, Fox expertly distills a decades-long drama into a universal story about love, transformation, and destiny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *