VARIETY, July 12-18, 2004
London Eye
Adam Dawtrey

Ever since producing "Little Buddha," Jeremy Thomas has nurtured a special connection with Tibetan Buddhist filmmakers. He acted as exec producer on Khyentse Norbu's debut "The Cup" as well as his sophomore pic, "Travellers and Magicians." Both films were sold through Thomas' sales company, HanWay Films.

Now Thomas has backed another first-time feature, "Dreaming Lhasa," an emotional thriller about the exiled Tibetan community in India. "Dreaming Lhasa" was shot late last year, with no publicity, in and around Dharamsala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama and the spiritual and political focus of the Tibetan diaspora.

It's written by Tenzing Sonam, who directed with his wife, Ritu Sarin. They previously made several docs, including "The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche," which followed the story of a child identified as a reborn Buddhist saint; and "The Shadow Circus," about the CIA-backed resistance to the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Thomas is one of several individuals who contributed toward the miniscule budget on "Dreaming Lhasa." Once again, HanWay will be handling sales. It's the story of a 30-year-old Tibetan woman who has grown up in New York, but returns to Dharamsala to make a film about the exile community and to escape her crumbling personal life back in Gotham.

She hooks up with a disaffected local who spends his time cybersurfing and chasing Western girls; and a mysterious ex-monk recently escaped from political imprisonment by the Chinese. Together they end up on a quest to find a CIA-trained resistance fighter who has been missing for 15 years.