May 29, 2007    

A Letter from Filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam

Dreaming Lhasa Opens in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 22


Dear Friends,

Nearly fifty years have passed since Communist China invaded and occupied Tibet. The situation in Tibet remains grim and shows no sign of easing up. At such a critical time, we believe it is imperative for us Tibetans to tell our own stories to the world. Since China rules Tibet with an iron hand, Tibetans inside Tibet have no voice, no possibility of expressing themselves. It is therefore up to those of us who live in exile to speak out on their behalf and keep the Tibetan struggle alive.

For the past several years, we have been making documentary films on a range of subjects concerning Tibet. At the same time, we have felt that it was important to make a Tibetan feature film, one that would accurately depict the contemporary reality of Tibet and dispel some of the more romanticized, Shangri-La-like notions about the country that have found currency in the Western imagination.
Two generations of Tibetans have grown up, either in exile, having never seen their homeland, or under Chinese rule. Their connection with the past, with a time when their country was independent, is becoming increasingly tenuous. Their very identity as Tibetans is being questioned, threatened, mutated. How is the younger generation dealing with this crisis? What does being Tibetan mean at this point in time?

Dreaming Lhasa is perhaps the first Tibetan feature film to explore these questions. As a film that provides a unique and personal insight into the lives of Tibetans today, it will appeal to anyone who is interested in Tibet, its people and its culture. At the same time, as a story that touches upon the universal issues of exile, identity, loss and love, the film has resonances beyond just the Tibetan experience. All exiles, indeed, all immigrants, face the same dilemmas; the confusion of dislocation, the paradox of simultaneously belonging to different worlds and cultures without having a solid anchor anywhere. And in this regard, we believe the film will also be of interest to a much wider audience.

Six years ago, when we first embarked on the journey that would become Dreaming Lhasa, we could only hope that we would somehow reach the end. In the absence of anything approaching a Tibetan film industry, we were on our own, literally having to start from scratch, using non-professional actors for the most part, and working in a semi-documentary style in real locations and situations. But with the help and support of the Tibetan community in exile, of family, friends and supporters, the film has become a reality.

After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and a successful theatrical run in New York, it is now on the verge of a wider commercial release in the US. The wider the release, the more people it can reach and touch, and bring the message of Tibet to. We need your help in making sure that the word gets out about our film. First Run Features can help you by providing you with flyers, posters and even copies of this letter.

Thank you for reading this and for your support.

With best wishes,
Ritu and Tenzing

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“It’s a pleasure (to) come across a film like Dreaming Lhasa…the images have a translucent purity; you feel as if you're seeing the world anew….heartbreaking.” –Boston Globe

“A film of both personal honesty and social insight…a keenly felt and well-told story.”–New York Sun

“Filled with heartbreaking moments… a fine example of how feature films can be used to deliver urgent political messages.” –New York Times

“Heartfelt and impressive.” –New York Magazine


Dreaming Lhasa Opens June 22 in the San Francisco Bay Area

Elmwood Theater
917 College Ave.
(510) 649-0530

Roxie Cinema
3117 16th Street
(415) 863-1087

San Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth St. (Between A & B)
(415) 454-1222

Visit for a complete list of playdates.