AM New York
April 12, 2007

By Jay Carr

The complexities of Tibetan exile drive 'Dreaming Lhasa,' an intimately scaled, subtle film about an American-Tibetan woman coming to terms with her bifurcated identity while in Northern India filming a documentary about the Tibetan diaspora. The film is anything but slick, which works in its favor as Karma (Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso) finds herself drawn into the life of a touchingly modest political exile and formerly imprisoned resistance fighter (Jampa Kalsang) trying to find a man long thought dead. Karma takes some flak from her earthy Tibetan assistant (Tenzin Jigme, providing both comic relief and a crush on the beautiful Karma), who warns her that the exile is just using her to get to America.

'Dreaming Lhasa' is more about ethics than action, but its close-up immersion in the daily lives of Tibetans abroad makes clear that to many of them, Tibet is best preserved in the mind.