Dreaming Lhasa Film Review

Exiled Tibetan Filmmaker Searches for Roots in Road Flick

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Karma (Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso), a Tibetan-American filmmaker from New York, decides to travel to the Dalai Lama’s headquarters in India to reconnect with her roots while making a documentary about former political prisoners. Accompanied by her young local assistant Jigme (Tenzin Jigme), who would love to relocate to the U.S., she negotiates her way around the refugee-filled city of Dharamsala.

There, she finds herself, first, intrigued by and, then, attracted to the recently-arrived Dhonup (Jampa Kalsang), a man on a mission to fulfill his dying mother’s last wish to deliver a charm box containing a cyanide pill to a long-lost friend of hers. Karma chooses to join the unorthodox ex-monk on his quest, and a triangle of sorts eventually ensues, with jealous Jigme warning her that Dhonup might only be interested in her for a Green Card marriage.

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This is the meat and potatoes of Dreaming Lhasa, a surprisingly-engaging, semi-autobiographical docudrama written and directed by Tenzing Sonam, himself, the son of Tibetan emigres. While the movie must have served as sojourn of self-discovery for the moviemaker, it simultaneously offers any audience a refreshingly realistic peek into the plight of his displaced people, a warts-and-all characterization which cuts a sharp contrast to the prevailing popular image as disembodied by the saintly Dalai Lama.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

In Tibetan and English with subtitles.

Running time: 90 minutes

Studio: First Run Features

Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.

Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America’s black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.