CM . . . . Volume XV Number 17. . . .April 17, 2009.
Ce Qu’il Reste de Nous: What Remains of Us.
François Prévost & Hugo Latulippe (Directors). Yves Bisallon (NFB Producer). François Prévost (Producer Nomandik Films).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
76 min., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9908 301.
Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Cathy Vincent-Linderoos.
In this film, we see a very brave Tibetan-Canadian woman named Kalsang Dolma who successfully manages to visit Tibet and somehow show her short video of the Dalai Lama - who was filmed elsewhere - delivering his message to ethnic Tibetans. She, in fact, serves as the interviewer of those Tibetans who were thus able to see the video clip and discuss it with her in their own homes.
What Remains of Us (Ce Qu'il Reste de Nous) addresses the concerns of the Dalai Lama and the Tibet Government in Exile about the quality of life that Tibetans remaining alive in Tibet are experiencing in the face of 50 years of Chinese rule. The film has won many awards here in Canada as well as internationally including Best Documentary at the 2004 Hollywood Film Festival Awards Gala. Whether you screen it in French or English, on TV or lap-top, for high school seniors or their teachers, it will be a most memorable viewing.
The film that we see is about the journey Dolma takes to and around Lhasa, Tibet, now located within the People's Republic of China. We see some rural Tibetan people at work, Tibetan monks in various settings, young Tibetan women in a brothel, many Chinese soldiers and the mammoth prison erected by the Chinese government. We see much evidence of the military might of China itself and a child-monk being hauled away bodily by a soldier. We see the message sent by the Dalai Lama to his people - as they are shown it. The camera-work is astonishingly beautiful, and the quality of the images so good that you may be reminded of a feature film with a healthy budget. The background music is haunting and lends an air of timelessness to the work.
You can well imagine that the Tibetans are mesmerized by the image and words of their spiritual leader, and a range of emotions from disbelief and grief through to reverence and fear are expressed. One Tibetan father explains that he is unable to send his children to school and he, himself, does not have a trade. The open practice of spiritual activities is severely restricted for fear of punishment. The words of the long-absent Dalai Lama strike a responsive chord in the small audiences, many of whom seem who barely capable of sustaining their own meager existences yet who apparently still cling without ceremony to Buddhism. This ancient religion counsels them to live non-violent, peaceful, highly moral lives and to treat their enemies with compassion, despite the lack of their own religious freedom -- as does the Dalai Lama, himself.
Grade 12 World History, Challenge and Change in Society, as well as Grade 11 World Religions: Beliefs and Daily Life are three subjects where this film should be shown. The questions about brutal Chinese domination in Tibet might be answered by referral to several online sources, including that of the not-for-profit Canada Tibet Committee. Human rights violations and solutions in the global context are another point of study coming away from the film, as are the following: a) the religion of Buddhism and b) Tibetan history and c) the Tibetan diaspora. There will be many intriguing questions that will arise from seeing the film, including this one: how and in what way(s) could the message from the Dalai Lama help the Tibetan peoples who remain in Tibet?
Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is a retired teacher who eschews the ongoing political subjugation by China of the peaceful, freedom-loving people of Tibet.
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