Dreaming Lhasa (2007)

Quite enjoyable
Reviewed by Simon on 2012-06-07

A Tibetan-American cutie goes to Northern India to interview Tibetan refugees about their experiences at the hands of the occupying Chinese forces. She meets a man who has come to India to find someone called Loga and give him a box. She decides to help, and their journeys to track Loga down take them through Tibet's recent history and the lives of modern Tibetans living in a foreign land.

The Himalayas form a gorgeous backdrop for the bulk of the story, with occasional excursions into more urban areas (none of it is actually shot in Tibet, unfortunately). There's some very nice cinematography- on a budget. Most of the dialogue is Tibetan, with some English. The cast are mostly non-professional actors (can't be that many professional actors who speak Tibetan!), and some of the acting is naturally rather bad - but it gives the film a very personal, "indie" feel, and in some places it feels very natural.

The story is not especially original - the use of a search in the present to uncover a story of the past has been used recently in A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT and TaeGukGi, for instance, but it's a fairly effective technique for making problems seem close to home that might otherwise seem rather distant to the wider audience. The sympathies of the film are 100% on the side of Tibetan independence, with no attempt to explain China's side of the argument (whatever that is). It's a voice for Tibet and the Tibetan people. A film "about what it means to be Tibetan today", according to the introduction we got at the SFAAFF... I'd have thought it meant different things to each individual Tibetan, and I suppose the film does too... so I'm not sure the observation means all that much.

The film is fairly languid, not raising high emotions one way or another (at least in me).