Apologies for this less than occasional newsletter. It’s been an exceptionally eventful year so far!
In March, we were in Mechelen, Belgium, to set up our exhibition at the Contour Biennale (Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium). Working closely with the curator Natasha Ginwala, we presented a new iteration of Burning Against the Dying of the Light, our multimedia installation looking at Tibetan resistance and focusing primarily on the self-immolation movement of the last few years.
We were particularly excited to unveil a new video work that was commissioned by Contour Biennale – Drapchi Elegy, a portrait of Namdol Lhamo, one of the Singing Nuns of Drapchi Prison, who now lives in quiet obscurity in Brussels.
It was a special moment when Namdol Lhamo attended the opening night celebrations and was able to view the film about her life in the context of the larger Tibetan struggle. Drapchi Elegy is currently on display at Kunsthalle Vienna as part of the group exhibition, How To Live Together. The show ends on 15 October 2017. It will next show at Marbouparken Art Gallery in Stockholm as part of the group exhibition that opens this Fall. It can also be viewed online at: http://www.ibraaz.org/channel/164
We also had the opportunity to experiment with a new mani (prayer wheel) design for the kinetic sculpture, The Wheel of Light and Darkness.
Returning from Belgium, we hit the ground running, immediately embarking on the shoot of our feature film, The Sweet Requiem. As many of you will know, we have been working on this project for several years now. The delay was primarily due to lack of funding but now we were able to scrape together enough money to begin production and rather than wait any longer to raise the full budget, we decided to go ahead and at least finish the shoot.
The shoot was in two parts: 10 days in Ladakh followed by 15 days in Delhi. The Ladakh shoot was truly epic! We had the coldest and snowiest April in seven years. Surrounded by snow, we filmed at 15,000 feet for most of the shoot. Our actors were wonderful, bearing the harsh conditions with equanimity, and the crew put in a heroic effort in sub-freezing temperatures.
And then, from the freezer it was literally into the frier. We were plunged directly into the hottest April in Delhi for many years! We shot in the claustrophobic confines of Majnu ka Tila and Ramesh Market with temperatures regularly hitting 45° C (113° F). On more than one occasion the Arri Alexa got so overheated that it shut down! Our DP David said he had never seen that happen before. Surprisingly though, the shoot was good-natured, fun and went off without a hitch, a testimony to the dedication and hard work of our crew and cast.
Now, we are in the thick of the edit. More fund-raising looms ahead as we will soon need money to complete post-production but we are trying not to think of it too much. What is important is that the footage looks good and the experience of working on the film so far has been simply incredible. A big thank you to everyone who came along for the journey so far and made it unforgettable.
Meanwhile, as work on the edit continues, we turn our attention to the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), which has become a regular part of our lives for the past five years. We have a new team in place, movies raining down on us like the monsoons, and plenty to do before Opening Night on 2 November. The festival this year runs from 2 to 5 November and will again be held on the campus of the Tibetan Children’s Village. So mark the dates on your calendar and follow us on Facebook for regular updates.
Until the next update, from Dharamshala with love!
Ritu & Tenzing