Films

Leaving Fear Behind
Dhondup Wangchen

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20th
FAULKNER GALLERY – SANTA BARBARA PUBLIC LIBRARY
3:00-4:00 PM

Q&A and discussion by Lhamo Tso (wife) and Giovanni Vassallo, President, Bay ARea Friends of Tibet

Leaving Fear Behind (in Tibetan, Jigdrel) is a heroic film shot by Tibetans from inside Tibet, who longed to bring Tibetan voices to the Beijing Olympic Games. With the global spotlight on China as it rises to host the XXIX Olympics, Tibetans wish to tell the world of their plight and their heartfelt grievances against Chinese rule. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet under extraordinary circumstances. The filmmakers were detained soon after sending their tapes out, and remain in detention today.

In a remarkable coincidence, filming concluded in early March 2008 on the eve of the eruption of unprecedented mass Tibetan protests across the Tibetan plateau. Shot primarily in the eastern provinces of Tibet, the film provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people and their longstanding resentment of Chinese policies in Tibet.

The filmmakers traversed thousands of miles, asking ordinary Tibetans what they really feel about the Dalai Lama, China, and the Olympic Games. The filmmakers gave their subjects the option of covering their faces, but almost all of the 108 people interviewed agreed to have their faces shown on film, so strong was their desire to express themselves to the world. Excerpts from twenty of the interviews, including a self-recorded interview of the filmmaker himself, are included in the 25 minute film.

 

 

The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom
A film by Tenzing Sonam and  Ritu Sarin (2009)

MONDAY, JANUARY 21st
UNITARIAN SOCIETY PARISH HALL
7:00 – 9:30 PM

Q&A and discussion by Tenzin Tethong, President, Dalai Lama Foundation, moderated by Michael Imperioli

50 years have passed since the fall of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leader, has lived in exile for most of his life, trying to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue by giving up the goal of independence and reaching a compromise with China. But his efforts have failed to yield any positive outcome, and his people are becoming more desperate.

March 2008. Tibet erupts as the biggest uprising since China took control in 1959, spreads across the country. The Tibetan people, for one brief moment, demonstrate to the world their unhappiness under Chinese rule and their desire for freedom. But China cracks down hard on the protests. It is also the year of the Beijing Olympics.

Even as the unrest spreads in Tibet, exile Tibetans in India, frustrated by the lack of political progress, set out on a march to their homeland, convinced that this is the only action they can take to support their countrymen. Meanwhile, there is a huge groundswell of international sympathy for the Tibetan cause.

This is a year of dramatic possibilities for Tibet. Can the Dalai Lama’s strategy of non-violence and compromise based on his Buddhist beliefs finally make a breakthrough?

The filmmakers take a uniquely Tibetan perspective on the trials and tribulations of the Dalai Lama and his people as they continue their struggle for freedom in the face of determined suppression by one of the world’s biggest and most powerful nations. The filmmakers had intimate access to the Dalai Lama and followed him over the course of an eventful year, which included the 2008 protests in Tibet, the international response to it, the Beijing Olympics, and the breakdown in talks between his representatives and the Chinese government.

Set against this backdrop, the film explores the interplay between the personal and the historic, spirituality and politics, and the tension between the Dalai Lama’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet situation based on compromise and dialogue, and the impatience of a younger generation of Tibetans who are ready to take a more confrontational course.

 

 

Gyalyum Chemo: The Great Mother
Women of TIbet Series by Rosemary Rawcliff

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25th
FAULKNER GALLERY – SANTA BARBARA PUBLIC LIBRARY
7:00-9:30 PM

Q&A and discussion by Tenzin Tethong, President, Dalai Lama Foundation, moderated by Michael Imperioli

The compelling life story of Dekyi Tsering, the mother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The Tibetan people call her “Gyalyum Chemo” or “Great Mother.” During the course of her long and extraordinary life, she gave birth to sixteen children, seven who survived, three of whom were recognized as incarnate lamas, and one who has been recognized by millions around the globe as one of the world’s leading ambassadors for peace.

Dekyi Tsering’s story embodies the generosity and wisdom of the “Great Mother” archetype in action. By following the journey of her life and times, we can see the gifts that mothers can and do give when there is nothing left to give; how a mother’s love survives regardless of loss; and how simple gestures of encouragement and support can profoundly impact the course  of one’s life. These are the qualities of motherhood that not only keep a family together, but have also helped to keep a nation together as it faced cultural genocide and exile. They are also the qualities that helped inspire the strength to preserve culture, family, and tradition while in exile.

The film weaves together a rich life history of anecdotal threads and personal reflections from her children, grandchildren, and friends who share the details of her long and full life. We are guided and inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who speaks candidly of his admiration and respect for his mother and the profound impact she had on him.

Dr. Marion Woodman (Addiction to Perfection), Alice Walker (The Color Purple), and Angeles Arrien (The Second Half of Life) link this uniquely Tibetan story to a much broader perspective of motherhood and how the Great Mother lives within each of us.

Dekyi Tsering’s story, as seen through the larger lens of the universal Great Mother, skillfully conveys how the greater forces of love, generosity, and mercy are constantly called into being.

Part of a unique film trilogy known as Women of Tibet produced by Frame of Mind Films, Women of Tibet: Gyalyum Chemo – The Great Mother is an inspired hour-long journey into the spiritual force of motherhood. The storytellers provide a universal link to an ancient philosophy that continues to have a profound impact on today’s world.

 

 

RETREAT
Film by David Cherniack

Monday, January 28th
8:00 PM
Arlington Theater (Santa Barbara Film Festival)

RETREAT follows the trials and tribulations, the agonies and ecstasies, of 35 Westerners as they attempt an intense, eight-week, silent, meditation retreat in Thailand led by the American Buddhist teacher, B. Alan Wallace. Some are experienced mediators, some are beginners. The practice they’re attempting is shamatha, or calm abiding, stilling the mind with sustained, one-pointed, concentration…simple enough sounding…but extremely difficult to master without long term withdrawal from the world…and considered to be an essential step on the path to full enlightenment.

Alan Wallace teaches Shamatha through a Buddhist understanding of the nature of consciousness and contrasts that understanding with the prevailing materialist paradigm of modern neuroscience where consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.

The film follows the retreat from start to finish. We see it through Alan’s eyes and through the difficulties experienced by four of the retreatants who record video diaries. Tension arises when one retreatant begins to have a sustained, psychotic episode and things threaten to come apart. Afterward they come together in new and touching ways.