UB to Hold Tibet in Buffalo Film Festival

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: February 3, 2006 This content is archived.


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The Tibet in Buffalo Film Festival will showcase some of the best films made about the Dalai Lama, Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism in preparation for His Holiness' visit to UB in September.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Martin Scorsese's film "Kundun" will open the Tibet in Buffalo Film Festival on March 9, the first film in a special series showcasing some of the best films about the Dalai Lama, Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.

The film festival is one of a series of events being held in conjunction with the visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to UB Sept. 18-20.

"The series presents a mix of feature and documentary films in order to provide a variety of cinematic perspectives on Tibet," said John Wood, associate vice provost for international education and a member of the planning committee for the Dalai Lama's visit.

"We are hoping that the festival will attract an audience from both UB and the larger community in Western New York," he said. "We see the Tibet-in-Buffalo festival as an important way to raise awareness about His Holiness and Tibet in anticipation of the visit by His Holiness in September."

A highlight of the series, Wood noted, is "Mirage in New York," a film directed by Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan filmmaker and 2005 graduate of UB. "Mirage in New York" was filmed as Wangchuk's graduate thesis.

"Tashi Wangchuk's film will be a special event," he said. "A graduate of our master's program in media study, Tashi has a promising career in filmmaking.

"He is one of a number of Tibetan graduate students who have come to UB to study media study," he said, adding that these graduates play an important role by using modern media to educate and raise awareness about Tibet.

The Tibet-in-Buffalo Film Festival will take place in the Market Arcade and Arts Centre, 639 Main St., Buffalo. Screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings from March 9 through April 27. There will be no screening on March 16. Some evenings will feature several films. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $2.50 for students. Series tickets are available for $30 and $15, respectively. A commentator will introduce each film.

Martin McGee, a local filmmaker who has visited Tibet and produced films about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, served as one of the series organizers, said Wood.

Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture in the UB departments of American Studies and English, will introduce the first film in the series. Directed by Scorsese, a five-time Academy Award nominee, "Kundun," 1997, is the true story of the Dalai Lama's struggle to rule a nation from which he was forced to escape in 1959. Currently living in exile in India, the Dalai Lama has created schools and other institutions to preserve the Tibetan language, religion and culture within the refugee community. Powerfully told and set against a backdrop of world politics, the film created an international uproar.

"Certainly 'Kundun' is important as the best-known film version of His Holiness's life," said Wood.

The rest of the schedule:

• March 23: "Wheel of Time," 2003, directed by Werner Herzog. This screening marks the Buffalo premier of Herzog's new film, which documents the largest Buddhist ritual to promote peace and tolerance, held by the Dalai Lama in India and Austria in 2002, and features exclusive interviews with the Dalai Lama and secret rituals that have never been shown before on film, as well as footage of a pilgrimage to the Holy Mount Kailash in Tibet.

"Devotion and Defiance," 2004, International Campaign for Tibet. This film chronicles the recent Communist crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet and examines the complex struggle of monks and nuns determined to practice their faith. Through their and other human stories, the documentary reveals how a generation of monks and nuns cope with the realities in modern-day Tibet.

• March 30: "Himalaya," 1999, directed by Eric Valli. A visually striking and spiritually captivating portrait of life in one of the world's most extraordinary places, "Himalaya" is both intense drama and a gorgeous tapestry of the fast-disappearing traditions of Tibetan life. Filmed over seven months featuring a cast of mostly non-professionals in the forbidden Dolpo region of Nepal, the film is the story of a generational struggle between a proud elderly chief and a headstrong young caravanner for the leadership of a tiny mountain village. The balance of power shifts uneasily as the two make their annual salt trek across the Himalayas.

• April 6: "Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy," 1993, directed by Ellen Bruno. Deeply personal and lyrical in style, this documentary focuses on the testimonies of Tibetan nuns, revealing continued religious oppression and human rights abuses in occupied Tibet. For more than 40 years, Tibetans have adhered to the principles of nonviolent social change. The film explores the basis and inspiration of this choice, and the spiritual principles that influence their understanding of the enemy.

"Escape from Tibet," 1997, directed by Nick Gray. A dramatic documentary that reveals for the first time the escape route used by thousands of Tibetan refugees who climbed the Himalayas at 19,000 feet to flee Chinese oppression. The film focuses on two charismatic brothers -- Pesang, 19, a novice monk, and 11-year-old Tenzin, who escapes from Tibet, encounters the Dalai Lama and finds freedom in a monastery in Southern India.

• April 13: "The Cup," 1999, directed by Khyentse Norbu. Set in a Tibetan monastery-in-exile in India, the movie follows a few young monks whose devotion to Buddhism is rivaled only by their fervor for soccer. More than a simple comedy, the film shows how Buddhism can find its way in a fast-changing world.

"Mirage in New York," 2005, directed by Tashi Wangchuk. The fascinating story of a group of young Tibetans living in New York City and the inner struggle of its main character to come to grips with lost love and the mystical nature of existence and rebirth.

• April 20: "The Knowledge of Healing," 1996, directed by Franz Reichle. An illuminating examination of Tibetan medicine, featuring the Dalai Lama, his personal physician Dr. Tenzin Choedrak and physicians from India to Siberia who practice this method of healing.

• April 27: "Windhorse," 1998, directed by Paul Wagner. Based on true events, the film focuses on the lives of three people who as children witnessed the murder of their grandfather. Dolkar, a rising pop star, has assimilated comfortably into Chinese culture, while her brother Dorjee's hatred of the Chinese has turned him into an embittered vagrant. Pema, their cousin, risks her life by defying the Chinese. With segments shot clandestinely in Tibet, "Windhorse" reveals the dark and all too human side of survival under the ongoing Chinese occupation.

Information about the Dalai Lama's visit to UB is available at http://www.buffalo.edu/dalai_lama/.

The public can sign up on the Web site for email updates about the visit and events related to it, including information about tickets sales that are expected to begin this spring.