Budding Tibetan Film maker reaches out to the Diaspora

Published Date:   Sunday, Apr 14, 2013

Film making is a challenge that requires not only creative passion and skills but also entrepreneurship of different kind. The film makers not only have to posses the entrepreneurship skills but also skills that can convince entrepreneurs to invest in the films. The audience, situation, market forces all decide the success a film. An interactive session with the budding Tibetan film maker Sonam Tseten at India International Centre on 14 April 2013 revealed many interesting facts about the challenges and opportunity for budding film makers, especially with scarce budget. The exciting interactive discussion was moderated by Youdon Aukatsang, Executive Director of Empowering the Vision. About 30 participants mostly Tibetans youths and some non-Tibetans had brainstorming discussions on the issue of film and the Tibetan diaspora.

Some of the issues that Mr. Tseten touched upon include the theme of his films that are mostly based on identity and social issues based in Tibet and among the Tibetan diaspora mostly in India. He said that film making is determined by market forces. Profit making attracts resources. Tibetan diaspora being a small have very less entrepreneurs poses more challenge for resource mobilisation for film makers. He said most of the successful Tibetan entrepreneurs reside in Australia and German, almost all of them don’t wish to take risk of investing in films as they find there is no profit. He said that mobilising social and cultural network is essential to convince the corporate to fund for the film projects and take risk for the sake of larger social cause.

Mr. Tseten also talked about the new generation Tibetan diaspora who are born and brought up outside their homeland and have different taste as compared to their older generation. They want to see films which are more diverse and inspiring rather than confining to the activism type. Tseten’s films are related to issues of struggle and social issues in Tibet as well as in the Diaspora. He plans to make movies for larger audiences in the future which can go beyond the Tibetan audience. Tseten take the risk of taking the unknown actors for all his films and most of them are low budget.

Tseten wish that the film making needs a peer group who can have skilled people for mobilising resources, talents and work as a cooperative group to produce films in professional way. He said the young generation should go for courses available in different Universities to learn the art and skills required for film making. Simultaneously he also he mentioned that the film makers should have the passion for their profession, which is more important than anything else.

After the initial discussion, a film titled “A Girl from China” was screened, followed by a short discussion again. The film, based in Delhi and Dharamsala narrate the story of a boy and a girl (hails from China) who became friend accidentally and then fallen in love. The relationship went through a usual contradiction as the issue of identity surfaced. The girl discovered the hostile sentiments of the Tibetans in exile toward communist China (Government, not the people of China) among the people of Tibetan origin while she witnessed a street protest in Dharamsala. She was not able to accept this hostility. However, as the situation unfolded the she discovered the pain of the Tibetans in exile and especially her boyfriend’s family all of whom lost their life in the prison. As the time passes, they discovered that there is something beyond this identity issue. The film successfully depicted trauma of the Tibetans in exile and the longing for the home. At the same time the film brought out the universal human values beyond narrow identities.

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