Heaven In Exile
The struggle for Freedom continues. A 2010 film is winning awards and takes a gripping look at the life of Tibetan refugees in India. Spending time in monasteries and refugee centers, ‘Heaven In Exile’ looks at the issue of the Tibetan Exodus, fifty years after the fall of Tibet. What does His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama say about life in exile? What negotiations are occurring with the Chinese? And is there hope for a return home?
With a win for World Documentary Feature at the Heart of England Film Festival, Anthropologist, Filmmaker, and Director Omar W. Rosales answers these questions in ‘Heaven in Exile’. Travel and adventure await the audience at every turn.
The film includes exclusive interviews with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the first Western interview of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. The Karmapa is said to be the successor to the Tibetan movement, should anything happen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. ‘Heaven in Exile’ was designated an Official Selection for the San Antonio Film Festival, the Heart of England Film Festival, the Ireland International Film Festival, the CineSol Film Festival, and the Thailand International Film Festival.
“It was a difficult shoot,” notes the Director. Rosales continues, “We spent a month in India, tracking down the most amazing Buddhist masters. Filming in the Himalaya always brings problems with altitude sickness, equipment, and logistics.”
The story begins with life at a Monastic school in the lowlands of India. The crew visits Siliguri, India as the young monks prepare for the Enthronement and 18th Birthday of a tulku, or reincarnated lama, known as Kalu Rinpoche Yangze. The monks join a caravan as they visit monasteries higher and higher in the mountains to reach their goal, a high-altitude monastic retreat in Sonada, India near Darjeeling. Eventually, the monks witness the once-in-a-lifetime celebration and the crowning of Kalu Rinpoche at Sonada.
“The film is about transition and redemption. We find transition as one generation of Buddhist masters pass on their knowledge, and their tulkus or reincarnated forms return to reclaim their monasteries. We also see redemption, in that the struggles made by Tibetan luminaries such as the Dalai Lama were not in vain. That the culture will survive.”
The plotline is highlighted by visits to the head of the Tibetan Medical Center, Dr. Dawa, Tibetan envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Tai Situ Rinpoche, and other notable refugees.
With the recent tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and China’s support of North Korea, the filmmakers are unsure how China will respond to the release of ‘Heaven in Exile’.
“Tibet is an issue we must talk about. Tibet affects many aspects of our lives: from the water pollution occurring in the Himalaya that spreads to India and Asia. To the air pollution that’s created in Tibet, which can be carried thousands of miles away by the jetstream.” Acknowledges Rosales. “And how can we ignore the human rights issue? China expects to be treated like a world-class nation, but continues the barbaric imprisonment and torture of Tibetans in Tibet.”
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