Films at the 4th Dharamshala International Film Festival

The fourth edition of the Dharamshala International Film festival is underway (Nov 5-8) in Dharamshala, a town in North India, known for being home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan exiles.

In the last four years DiFF has fast established itself as one of the fastest growing and most interesting film festivals in India and in that region of Asia. Started by filmmaker couple Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, their film selection focuses mostly on indies from India and rest of the world. The festival showcases excellent selection of recent independent films from all over the world, featuring both narratives and documentaries. The festival also hosts panels and discussions with filmmakers and artists who are invited to this otherwise quiet town in the hills.

The diversity and the creativity of the festival programming rivals any major International film festival, not just in India but anywhere in the world.

For this year’s full program, visit

Some notable films this year are:

The Wolfpack
The Concrete Night
The Look of Silence
The Tale of Iya
Zero Motivation
Wild Women – Gentle Beasts

Heart of a Dog, a film by Laurie Andersen


HEART OF A DOG – This month’s must watch film now showing at the Film Forum NYC

HEART OF A DOG (HEART) is a personal essay by renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson that weaves together childhood memories, video diaries, philosophical musings on data collection, surveillance culture and the Buddhist conception of the afterlife, and heartfelt tributes to the artists, writers, musicians and thinkers who inspire her. Fusing her own witty, inquisitive narration with original violin compositions, hand-drawn animation, 8mm home movies and artwork culled from exhibitions past and present, Anderson creates a hypnotic, collage-like visual language out of the raw materials of her life and art, examining how stories are constructed and told — and how we use them to make sense of our lives.

Beginning with the dream sequence that opens the film, HEART creates a visual language out of the many linked stories comprising its 75-minute running time that is akin to dream logic. “The first story is told from the perspective of my dream self. The first words in the movie are ‘This is my dream body,'” says Anderson. “So the narrator says right away that these stories come from a different time and place.” But the film is as much about fractured stories as it is about the construction of stories.

Heart of a Dog fuses the raw materials of Anderson’s life and art into a greater narrative about love and loss, life and death, and the passage of time. She segues into her beloved dog Lolabelle’s journey into the afterlife — or the Bardo, as it is known in The Tibetan Book of the Dead — depicted in a series of charcoal drawings that were originally shown in the artist’s 2011 show “Forty-Nine Days in the Bardo” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. The multimedia exhibition included some of the same themes in HEART, including love and death, the many levels of dreaming, and illusion.


Transcendental Gonkar Gyatso


Wall Street International article by Raffaele Quattrone

There is a bridge able not only to connect but also to create a dialogue linking East and West, spirituality and matter in a great harmony. It is the bridge in the construction of which many of us are engaged as well as many visual artists among which we can mention Kimsooja, Shirin Neshat, Wang Qingsong, Takashi Murakami, Imran Qureshi, Francesco Simeti, Alessandro Moreschini, Gonkar Gyatso. About the practice of Gonkar Gyatso I dwelt on several occasions including an interview published here on the pages of the Wall Street International where I defined Gyatso, English-American artist born in Tibet, a “post-global ethnographer” interested in developing the ties between traditional Buddhist iconography and Western pop culture, Eastern spiritual tradition and Western materialistic culture paying to both the same care and attention.

Read the full article at the Wall Street International / Art

BIOGRAPHY – Born in Tibet in 1961, Gyatso studied traditional Chinese ink and brush painting in Beijing, Thangka painting in Dharmsala and fine arts in London. Gyatso was the recipient of a Leverhelm Fellowship in 2003 as an artist in residence at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. He is the founder of the Sweet Tea House, a contemporary Tibetan Art Gallery in London. His work has been internationally exhibited in galleries and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Israel), The Institute of Modern Art (Australia), the Rubin Museum of Art (New York) the Chinese National Art Gallery (Beijing), the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art (Scotland), the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), Burger Collection (Switzerland), the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam (Netherlands), Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (Australia), Colorado University Art Museum and Collections (USA), the 53rd Venice Biennial (Italy), the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane (Australia) and the 17th Sydney Biennale. His work is held in numerous public and private collections around the world.

2 Films to Watch on Mother’s day


Mother’s day is upon us and if you are looking for two essential films to watch on this special holiday, here are two must-watch recommendations.

1. Mother 마더 2009 by Bong Jun Ho (South Korea)

Hye-ja is a single mom to 27-year-old Do-joon. Her son is her raison d’être. Though an adult in years, Do-joon is naïve and dependent on his mother and a constant source of anxiety, often behaving in ways that are foolish or simply dangerous. Walking home alone one night down a nearly empty city street, he encounters a young girl who he follows for a while before she disappears into a dark alley. The next morning, she is found dead in an abandoned building and Do-joon is accused of her murder. Thanks to an inefficient lawyer and an apathetic police force, Do-joon’s case is quickly closed, but his mother refuses to let this be the end of the story.

Available on iTunes

2. Mommy 2014 by Xavier Dolan (Canada)

A feisty widowed single mom finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her unpredictable 15-year-old ADHD son. As they struggle to make ends meet, Kyla, the peculiar new neighbor across the street, offers her help. Together, they find a new sense of balance, and hope is regained.

Available on iTunes

Transcending Tibet: 30 Tibetan and non-Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today.

Over the last two decades Trace Foundation has been working with Tibetan communities on the plateau, supporting continuity and development of Tibetan culture, language, art and preservation of Tibetan heritage. After traveling in Tibet, and struck by the challenges faced by the local communities, Andrea E. Soros founded Trace Foundation to support Tibetan people and culture in Western China. Since it’s inception, Trace has touched thousands of lives on the plateau through its humanitarian, educational and development works.

Celebrating it’s 20th year Trace holds several landmark events including, Lens on Tibet, a film series held at MoMA featuring works of Tibetan filmmakers exclusively from inside Tibet. Many of the filmmakers featured in the program were former scholarship winners of Trace’s education program that enabled them to study film. Most notably, filmmaker Pema Tseden and Sonthar Gyal, who studied at the Beijing Film Academy under this program, has proven themselves as exceptional filmmakers and have exhibited their works in many important film festivals around the world.

So far Trace has provided about 5000 scholarships to support undergraduate and postgraduate training for young Tibetans from the plateau.

Ending April 12, Transcending Tibet: Celebrating Contemporary Tibetan Art, is a group show featuring specially commissioned works by 30 Tibetan and non Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today. Some of the featured artists from inside Tibet are Nortse, Benchung, Jamsang, Gade, Tsering Nyandak, and also featured are works by exile artists Gonkar Gyatso, Tenzing Rigdol, Trulku Jamyang, Tashi Norbu, Rabkar Wangchuk, Tenzin Phakmo, and many more.

Gade, Let’s Sing that Song

Many of the works by the different artists follow a similar theme in Tibetan contemporary art focusing on the clash of modernity and tradition; Buddha and Mickey Mouse in one frame but nonetheless these are stunning and colorful pieces.

Benchung, Meditator Beware, 1 of 3

Some of these works have subtle yet more profound socio-political messages including this one by Benchung, Meditator Beware, a self-portrait of the artist tied from the knee to his back by a piece of cloth that looks like a monk’s robe. Scribbled on the wall behind, you see names of a few radical Tibetan writers from exile, Ai Wei Wei, Phayul, a website for Tibetan news from exile, Facebook, google, etc.

Although the exhibition has stayed clear of any outright political messaging in these commissioned works, it is hard not to notice the urge from the artists to make a point in many of these works. On one wall sits quietly, a piece by artist Tenzing Rigdol. A portrait of a faceless Buddha, the face covered in flames of fire, possibly hinting at the 140+ self-immolation protests that has taken place in TIbet in the recent years.

The show features many lesser-known artists too including some breathtaking calligraphy by Phuntsok Tsering, a Tibetan artist from Germany. In one collaboration, Jewellery designer Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini has taken inspiration from Tsering’s artwork and created a silver necklace with the calligraphy titled “Light Offering”. For this show, 25 Internationally renowned designers including Italian brand, Costume National, have created fashion items inspired by some of the artworks. Some of these designer wears and artworks are on sale at their online auction here to support the foundation’s work.

Light Offering, Phuntsok Tsering, Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini


The show runs from March 14 to April 12 2015 at the Rogue Space Chelsea 508 W 26th Street, 9E-F New York, NY 10001

More from Trace’s page:


Tenzin Dickie

Mandala of Milarepa

TARA LOBSANG, Mandala of Milarepa, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in. Courtesy of Tibet House Gallery, NY

Last Friday night I went to an art opening at Tibet House in Union Square, featuring calligraphic paintings by the artist Tara Lobsang. This sort of thing is always happening to me. I mean to have a quiet weekend holed up in my apartment and before I know it, I have committed not only to a party but also an after party. (I might be a closeted introvert.) But it was a fun and festive opening night, not least because Tenzin Choegyal gave a typically fantastic musical performance.

Now Tibetan calligraphy is a very exacting art with quite rigid and empirical standards of beauty. When I was a child, my Tibetan language teacher spent our daily lessons making us trace his handwriting, which he considered the acme of calligraphic excellence, over and over again. Luckily I have an older brother who taught me that if you trace your Ka, Kha, Gha… really hard the first few times, you can fool your teacher and use the time instead for more important things, such as playing Tic Tac Toe with your desk mate. Older brothers are always full of foolish wisdom like this.

My point is, Tibetan calligraphy is a highly prescriptive art form. Lobsang’s work is a clear departure from this classical calligraphy, and his best pieces demonstrate a celebration of riotous spontaneity and an abundance of energy that is very much like the artist himself. (He happens to be the kind of person who when he looks for apartments in New York just walks off into the streets to look, like a nomad in search of the right tent to rent—and what’s more, he finds them this way.) The gallery calls his work calligraphic paintings but I also like the term abstract calligraphy, because it suggests a newish subgenre, at least in contemporary Tibetan art.

A Brush With Reality is Lobsang’s first solo exhibition. Two standouts from the solo show are Mandala of Milarepa and Milarepa, both featuring gorgeous calligraphic renderings of the legendary saint Milarepa. The myth of Milarepa, a historical figure who is said to have attained enlightenment in one lifetime, has endured in the Tibetan consciousness for the last thousand years. In the two calligraphic paintings, an apparently simple swish of the paintbrush produces the abstract yet instantly recognizable figure of the saint, his right hand held to his ear to evoke the hundred thousand songs of realization. He sits amid a mandala of colors, or on a blank white canvas, and the pieces are evocative, elegant and just really really cool.

Overall, the flight of calligraphic paintings looked beautiful adorning the walls of Tibet House.  A Brush With Reality is a significant achievement for Tara Lobsang and a very exciting contribution to contemporary Tibetan art.

TARA LOBSANG, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.  Courtesy of Tibet House Gallery, NY

TARA LOBSANG, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in. Courtesy of Tibet House Gallery, NY

Click here for TIBET HOUSE

A Brush with Reality – Tara Lobsang March 13-May 12, 2015
Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street, NY, NY 10011

Top 7 Tibet and Art related events to attend this March.

1. Tibet House Benefit Concert – Music Concert, NYC, USA, March 05

The Flaming Lips

This year’s Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert, celebrating Tibetan new year – Year of the Wood Sheep, and 25 years of Tibet House US,  will feature a line-up of some of the world’s most impressive musicians and artists. To be held at it’s usual venue, Carnegie Hall, Artistic-Director and composer Philip Glass will open one of New York’s most loved annual music events. Other performers include The Flaming Lips, Patti Smith and band with Jesse Paris Smith, Tenzin Choegyal, Artist Laurie Anderson and many more. Monks from the Drepung Monastery, some of whom were recently featured in House of Cards Season 3 will also present an invocation at the concert.

Click here to learn more.


2. Bringing Tibet Home – Film Screening, Mexico City, Mexico, March 10

Bringing Tibet Home Mexico

Award winning documentary film, Bringing Tibet Home will be screened at multiple locations in Mexico. The film opens at the Cinemex WTC in Mexico City on March 10 and will travel to other cities including Cuernavaca, Querétaro, Monterrey, Puebla and Morelia. The film tells the story of Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol and his 2011 art installation in Dharamsala, India, where he made possible, a symbolic re-union between Tibetan exiles and their land using 20 tones of smuggled soil from Tibet.

Click here to learn more.


3. Night of Music and Resistance with Tenzin Choegyal – Music Performance, NYC, USA, March 10

Tenzin Choegyal at SFT

Australia based renowned Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal will perform live at the Students for a Free Tibet office in New York City. This month he will also perform at the Carnegie Hall Tibet House Benefit Concert.

Click here to learn more.


4. A Brush With Reality – Art Exhibition, NYC, USA, March 13


Tara Lobsang is a Tibetan artist and master calligrapher born and raised in Tibet, educated in India, and currently living in New York. In A Brush With Reality, Lobsang wields his sweeping brushstrokes and spiritual faith to delve into a range of human emotions, cosmological landscapes and metaphysical truths. Opening March 13.

Click here to learn more.


5. Transcending Tibet – Art Exhibition, NYC, USA,  March 18

Transcending Tibet

Representing thirty emerging and established artists from the Tibetan Plateau and around the world, Transcending Tibet is a landmark exhibit of newly commissioned work. Mining the visual and material history of both Tibet and the modern world – re-appropriating iconography, playing boldly with everything from acrylic and oil to mirrors illuminated with LEDs – these artists offer a varied and nuanced look at Tibetan identity and culture today

Click here to learn more.

6. Ottawa Tibet Film Festival, Ottawa, Canada March 21

Ottawa Tibet Film Festival

The Ottawa Tibet Film Festival (OTFF) will be hosting its 3rd annual film festival March 21, 2015 at the St. Paul University Amphitheatre! The festival will be an opportunity for the Ottawa region to experience and learn more about the people, culture and land of Tibet through a series of feature-length movies and documentaries. Showcased films include, among others, Bringing Tibet Home, Old Dog, Tibet in Songs, Milarepa…

Click here to learn more.


7. Watch Season 3 of HOUSE of CARDS, Netflix, March

House of Cards Tibet

In episode 7 of House of Cards, Season 3, Tibetan monks share the White House with the Underwoods. The monks spend a month inside the White House calmly building a Sand Mandala while the President and the First Lady attempts at amending their fragile relationship whilst also at the same time trying to stay at the top of their game. A unique yet beautiful episode ripe with symbolisms, the story shuffles back and forth in time. Nothing is forever. No major spoilers here!

Click here to learn more.


Songs for the Tibetan dead: A Performance Unlike Any Other

Tenzin Choegyal with Jesse Paris Smith, Laurie Anderson and band.

Tenzin Choegyal with Jesse Paris Smith, Laurie Anderson and band at the Rubin Museum of Art. Photo: © Raymond Haddad

Composer and musician Tenzin Choegyal is well known for his haunting melodies, soaring vocals and an addiction to experimentation. So when I took a seat last night in the Rubin Museum’s acoustic theater for a sold-out show by Choegyal alongside Laurie Anderson and Jesse Paris Smith, I expected to be surprised. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to come: an hour-long journey into the great unknown, filled with visualizations of death, rebirth and the great mystery of awakening.

Choegyal and friends performed a breathtaking and sublime musical adaptation of Bardo Thodrol (The Great Liberation Through Hearing), a Tibetan Buddhist text usually read for the dead or dying by a Tibetan lama. In the process of dying, Buddhists believe, a person’s consciousness goes through several different stages, where the dying person begins to see different kinds of colors, sharp lights, and terrifying images. The consciousness, blinded by the lights and terrified by the images of wrathful deities, is often lured into the more inviting paths of softer shades that lead to lower realms of rebirth. But if the dying person can face the blinding lights squarely, unafraid of the wrathful images and sounds, she can use this ‘moment of clear light’ to attain instantaneous enlightenment. The Bardo Thodrol, also known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, is read to the dead with the intention of guiding them through this in-between state following one’s death and before entering rebirth.

With his trademark vocals accompanied by the unmistakable twang of his dranyen, Choegyal rendered the Bardo Thodrol, magically, into a multidimensional journey for the lay audience, an awe-inspiring rehearsal for the ultimate moment of clear light that awaits us all. Laurie Anderson’s intimate and powerful narration of the book was an artwork of the highest order, holding the audience enraptured, imprisoned, and eventually released. Jesse Paris Smith and her friends, with their panoply of futuristic instruments and the perfectly timed clanking of cymbals, created a cosmic soundtrack that was by turns apocalyptic, spellbinding and liberating.

At the end of the show, when Choegyal explained that this particular performance of Bardo Thodrol was dedicated to the more than 140 Tibetans who have self-immolated in the last four years for the cause of Tibetan freedom, the audience broke into a collective gasp, followed by rapturous and emotional applause. For many, it was as if the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle fell into its place, revealing a profound and devastating truth that had been brewing for an hour, in fact, for four years. No one left the concert hall without being moved – or transformed – by the unforgettable experience.

– by Tendor

Learn more about Tenzin Choegyal

President Obama Wishes you a Happy New Year

Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year here in America and all around the world. I’ll always remember the parades, fireworks, and gatherings that surrounded the Lunar New Year when I was growing up in Hawaii. And now as President, this celebration is a perfect reminder of the many cultures and faiths that make us who we are as Americans…

– President Barak Obama

Wish you a wonderful new year from Tibetan Art Council.

Tibet related film at the Oscars, commentary on on-going erosion of Tibetan culture

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.46.10 AM

Butter Lamps, a short film directed by Chinese filmmaker Hu Wei is among the films nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. This 15 minute experimental short is a work of fiction that is tinted with commentary on socio-political issues on the Tibetan plateau resulting from factors that are beyond the control of the Tibetans. The film features real Tibetan nomads as they interact with a photographer who travels the land offering to shoot portraits using various backdrops.

The film is said to be inspired by photographer Michael Nash’s works from Warsaw in 1946, where he went to the war torn region and photographed locals using scenic peaceful backdrops concealing the ruins from the war. Hu Wei’s film was shot between 2010 and 2012. The director, in an interview says,

“I hope to call attention to Tibet and Tibetan culture and traditions that are vanishing due to various reasons. And at the same time, examine the changes of our own culture under the influence of today’s globalization and modernization.”

In 2010, during the director’s first attempt to shoot the film in Tibet, Tibetans refused to work with him when they saw that he wanted to use the Tiananmen Square as a backdrop. The locals thought Hu Wei was making a Chinese propaganda film and did not want to partake. After a scuffle between the locals and the filmmakers, the production didn’t resume until 2012.

In the clip below from the film, Tibetan nomads pose in front of a camera, behind them is the backdrop of Tiananmen Square with it’s famous portrait of Mao. Soon an old Tibetan woman sits on a chair at the center concealing Mao’s portrait and instead holds a portrait of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the reincarnation of  Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s most important religious leaders. In 1995, when the boy was just 6 years, The Dalai Lama recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama but that same year, he and his whole family disappeared from the public eye. Believed to be in Chinese custody, Human rights organizations have often reffered to him as the world’s youngest political prisoner.


Read more about the Panchen lama here:


Born in Beijing, China, Hu Wei graduated from La Femis, the National School of Fine Arts in Paris and Le Fresnoy, and now lives and works between Beijing and Paris.