"She was moved to tears as she told me of her last twenty years far from home... it was then I made the promise to this woman to go deep into Tibet, and return to tell the world what I saw." Whilst travelling in Nepal, American filmmaker Miguel Cano chanced upon an elderly Tibetan lady. Weathered and frail, she told him of her past; how years ago she was driven from her home by Chinese authorities, forced to live out her days alone in exile. Moved by her suffering, Cano vowed to visit the often-uncharted region and explore an ancient culture increasingly under threat.
Alone and with no clear itinerary, Cano immerses himself in the customs and traditions of the Tibetan people; his only objective being to absorb the unique culture of the region. "I needed to let the path take me where it will", he explains. Hitching rides on the back of motorbikes and sleeping in mountaintop monasteries, Cano is welcomed by a people of immense warmth and charm. "Even though we could not talk to each other, it felt as if we always said so much... communication felt more honest than I had ever experienced."
Largely isolated from the rest of society, the autonomous region remains the cradle of eastern Buddhism and spirituality, many of its ancient traditions still intact. However, as Cano discovers, the region is not purely a religious utopia. Despite the warmth of the Tibetan locals, he is harassed at every turn by an an overbearing and very visible Chinese police force, and the underlying tensions between Tibetans and their Chinese neighbours is notable throughout the region.
Tibet remains under threat from the West as well as the East, and the arrival of consumer culture has brought with it a sharp increase in debris and waste: amongst the breathtaking hills and valleys are growing mountains of drinks cans, food packaging and refuse. "There is a complete lack of environmental awareness", Cano explains, "there's no infrastructure to dispose of this garbage".
Tibet faces a perilous future: Cano's complete immersion in it provides a fascinating insight into this most ancient of civilizations.
Laurel Special Jury Mention - International Human Rights Festival of Bolivia, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Al-Jazeera Documentary Film Festival, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - IHRFFA, International Human Rights Film Festival of Albania, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - International Film Festival Kayche, Mexico - September 2015
Laurel Official Selection - BitingDocs International Documentary Film Festival, Bulgaria - October 2015
Laurel Official Selection - "La Imagen de los Pueblos" (The view of a Nation), Ecuador, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Hong Kong Tibet Film & Art Festival, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - Tibetan Film Festival of Slovakia, 2015
Laurel Official Selection - KO&Digital International Festival of Solidary Films, Barcelona (Spain) - June 2016
About the Film
10 June 2016