Tibet in Harlem 2: Origins (March 14–20, 2010)

is the second annual series of Tibetan and Tibet-related films at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem. This year's program showcases a collection of rarely screened early films – both documentary and fiction – by some of the most important Tibetan and Chinese filmmakers working in Tibet today.

In conjunction with Tibet in Harlem the Maysles Cinema will also present an exclusive Spotlight on Emerging Filmmakers. This special program, taking place March 22nd – 23rd, will showcase short films and works-in-progress by young Tibetan filmmakers currently living in France, India, Canada, and the United States.

Presented by the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, Maysles Cinema, Machik and the Kham Film Project.

Series Programmers: Robert Barnett, Lynn True, Nelson Walker.

A remarkable renaissance has been quietly taking place within Tibet, almost completely unknown to the outside world: a group of largely self-taught Tibetan intellectuals and artists have suddenly emerged who are making films about Tibetans and Tibetan life. In the last five years, these directors, each of them working alone and without state support, have found new ways to show Tibetan culture and life on screen. Their filmic visions are nothing like those made in the west or in China. Led by the works of Padma Tseten, which stand in their own right as major films by any standard, this festival showcases the early works of some of these filmmakers as they search for new ways of talking about being Tibetan.
— Robert Barnett, Director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program, Columbia University


Sunday March 14, 7:00 pm

Prince of the Himalayas

Director: Sherwood Hu
Year: 2006
Runtime: 108min
Tibetan with English subtitles

Setting Hamlet in a completely new context in early Tibetan history, Prince of the Himalayas is a visually ravishing historical epic that is richly suggestive of the enduring relevance of Shakespeare's tragedy for the modern world and the most successful example so far of artistic cooperation between a Chinese director and Tibetan writers (Dorje Tsering Chenaktshang and Tashi Dawa).

OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION to follow screening, sponsored by Harlem's own Sugar Hill Ale.

Monday March 15, 7:30 pm


16 Barkor South Street

Director: Duan Jinchuan
Year: 1996
Runtime: 100min
Tibetan and Chinese with English subtitles

No.16, Barkor Street is an old courtyard in the heart of Lhasa and the site of the office of the Barkor Neighborhood Committee. This masterful cinema verité documentary, the landmark work in the history of independent documentaries about Tibet, is a photographic study of the basic workings of government in Tibet that follows the local Party Secretary, Deputy Director, Director for Women's Affairs, and Community Policeman, among others, as they implement official policies and manage neighborhood affairs. 

Tuesday March 16, 7:30 pm

Tantric Yogi

Director: Dorje Tsering Chenaktsang
Year: 2005
Runtime: 50min
Director's first documentary
Tibetan with English subtitles

This documentary follows a Yogi and his fellow villagers as they travel through challenging territory to reach a rare gathering of thousands of lay tantric practitioners in Eastern Tibet. Narrated by Jim Broadbent.

Ani Lhacham

Director: Dorje Tsering Chenaktshang
Year: 2007
Runtime: 27min
Tibetan with English subtitles

When she was a child, Lhacham was eager to learn how to read and write. For economic reasons, her parents thought otherwise. She decided to run away to a nunnery in order to receive the education she was dreaming of. Dorje Tsering Chenaktsang follows her during a trip to the nearby town to get her tape recorder fixed. This recorder is her knowledge tool which she uses to learn Tibetan. The film is a tender and poetic portrait of Lhacham's first journey into town.

Wednesday March 17, 7:30 pm

The Silent Holy Stones

Director: Padma Tseten
Year: 2005
Runtime: 102min
Director's first feature
Tibetan with English subtitles

The debut feature from the preeminent Tibetan filmmaker working today. The Silent Holy Stones is a restrained, unhurried story of a 10-year old Tibetan monk who has the chance to spend a few days at New Year with his family in their village a day's horse-ride away. The boy's journey to his village and back to the monastery bring to light the intertwined forces of westernization and consumerism that are a powerful presence even in a small Tibetan farming community.

Introduced by Kevin Lee of dGenerate Films and followed by Q&A with filmmaker Padma Tseten.
Co-presented by dGenerate Films.

Thursday March 18, 7:30 pm



Director: Sonam
Year: 2006
Runtime: 95min
Director's first film
Tibetan with English subtitles

A delightfully personal rendering of the story of Tibet's best known and most respected yogi-poet, Milarepa, made by a self-taught director who wrote, lit, set and edited the entire film himself, using amateur actors in a remote Tibetan village. As a young man, Milarepa uses sorcery to murder his aunt and uncle who have stolen his family's fortune. Later he regrets his actions and seeks out a famous lama, who submits his student to years of hardship before complete understanding can be achieved.     

Friday March 19, 7:30 pm

The Grassland

Director: Padma Tseten
Year: 2004
Runtime: 22min
Director's first film
Tibetan with English subtitles

When an elderly woman's yak goes missing, her husband is sure he knows who the culprits are, but the woman is more concerned about avoiding further suffering for the suspects. A careful and moving study of different views of resolving conflict in a nomadic community.

The Girl Lhari

Director: Rigdan Gyatso
Year: 2005
Runtime: 25 min
Director's first work.
Tibetan with English subtitles

Lhari is a young bride sent to a country village to live with her in-laws, who increasingly use her as a servant and even lock her out at night, with her husband not daring to intervene. Lhari decides to find her own, quintessentially Tibetan solution to her situation.

Screenings followed by panel discussion with both filmmakers, Padma Tseten and Rigdan Gyatso, and a reception!

Saturday March 20, 7:30 pm

The Search

Director: Padma Tseten
Year: 2009
Runtime: 112min
Director's second feature
Tibetan with English subtitles

A Tibetan film director travels from village to village across the country looking for an actor and an actress to star in his next film. He hears talk of people with the skills he needs, but they always seem to have just left or living somewhere else, as if he's come too late. The Search is a road movie exploring a disappearing culture, taking the viewer straight into the heart of contemporary Tibet. This elegant film recently debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and is the first ever to be shot entirely in Tibet in the Tibetan language by a local crew.

Q&A with filmmaker and CLOSING NIGHT RECEPTION to follow, sponsored by Harlem's own Sugar Hill Ale

Tuesday March 23, 7:30 pm

Four Rivers
**Special work in progress screening**
Director:  Tenzin Phuntsog
Unit Director: Anders Uhl
Year: 2010
Runtime: 90min

An experimental composition of site-specific vignettes based in Western Tibet’s remote Mount Kailash region, the source of Tibet’s Four Rivers.

Followed by Q&A with the filmmakers.


Monday March 22, 7:30 pm

Miss Taken

Director: Thupten Chakrishar
Year: 2009
Runtime: 6min
Tibetan and English with English subtitles

Kunga takes a cab from Manhattan to his Brooklyn home. On the journey, he and the cab driver strike up a conversation which will later change their lives.

History of Momos

Director: Tenzin Tsetan Choklay
Year: 2007
Runtime: 11min

A Tibetan man living alone in Seoul, Korea remembers his real home far away in the Himalayas. With no friends and family around in this new city, food connects him to his past and his people.

Lost in Paradise
Director: Nudup Dorjee (A Chou, Tuo Chieh)
Country: U.S.
Year: 2010
Runtime: 8min
Chinese and English with English subtitles

A woman gets lost in the subway on her way to buy shoes for her son, whom she is expecting from China.

Dramgyen: The Lute
Director: Tashi Eugyal
Runtime: 13min
Tibetan with English subtitles

A Tibetan immigrant family attempts to adjust to life in a new western society. As trained musicians, the parents are unable to secure "good" jobs in their new home. Kelsang, their only daughter, happens to be a musical prodigy herself. Her father disapproves of her choice.


Director: Tenzin Dazel
Year: 2009
Runtime: 28min
Tibetan with English subtitles

Beautiful black and white 8mm film captures a day in the life of a group of young Tibetans in New Delhi -- mostly call center workers and college students -- as they navigate the challenges of the day, looming pressures of tomorrow and haunting echoes of years past.

Panel discussion with filmmakers and actors to follow.




Art by Tenzin Phakmo (artist name: TENZXY!) is on display at the Maysles Cinema during Tibet in Harlem 2 and Spotlight on Emerging Filmmakers. Tenzin Phakmo was born to a middle class Tibetan family from Tashiling Tibetan Camp in Pokhara, Nepal and now lives in Queens, NY. Contact: tenzxy@gmail.com.


Presented by the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, Maysles Cinema, Machik and the Kham Film Project. Series Programmers - Robert Barnett, Lynn True, Nelson Walker. 

Supported by The Henry Luce Foundation, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and other organizations.

All receptions sponsored by Tibetan Volunteers for Animals, NY

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.