A Tibetan refugee living in India is forced to try to remember the circumstances under which she escaped her homeland as a child: a harrowing dramma-thriller hybrid from the region’s finest filmmakers
WHERE WE SAW IT: Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2019
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Dolkar is a Tibetan woman who has been living in India since she was a child. One day, an unexpected visitor to the Tibetan refugee colony brings back the painful memories about Dolkar’s escape from Tibet and the murky circumstances of the dangerous journey she then made with her father. Complicity, identity, and the role of an individual in a movement are explored in this story of loss, compromise, and repressed past.
WHO MADE IT: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam are a real-life Indian-Tibetan couple of filmmakers, and Sweet Requiem is their sophomore feature. One of the producers, Shrihari Sathe, was recently featured on Supamodu with the other film he produced, Mafak. Tenzin Dolker, who performs in the leading role, shares parts of her biography with Dolkar, but currently, she lives and works as a photographer in New Orleans: her black and white street snapshots of life in the US are fascinating.
WHY WE CARE: Tibetan independence remains unresolved, and the subject is particularly poignant when China’s colonialism is brought to the forefront of the news with the current events in Hong Kong. In addition to being an impressive lament for Tibet, Sweet Requiem is also an exploration of Tibetan identity in a woman who barely recalls living in her homeland, yet remains deeply immersed in the diaspora, and can’t help but question her belonging. Dolkar’s inability to find a place for herself in the social fabric of her adoptive motherland is a universally recognized example of alienation so rampant in the world of refugees and migrants. Meanwhile, the story of Gompo, the man from Dolkar’s past, is a revelatory, difficult look at how political realities within a society are created.
WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: Watch Sweet Requiem to find out more about the obstacles that Tibetans faced and continue to face when trying to keep their colonized homeland alive. Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin make some of the best films from the region, and their unapologetic political approach paired with the talent for exceptionally well-paced storytelling makes for very satisfying viewing. Sweet Requiem is a gripping, complex and heartbreaking drama-thriller hybrid which will both quench the thirst for underrepresented narratives, and entertain.
Sweet Requiem (Kyoyang Ngarmo), 2018
Directors: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam