Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Year in Tibet

Intimate documentary series following a year in the life of the society living in and around Gyantse, Tibet's third largest town. Unaccompanied by Chinese authorities for the first time, BBC cameras offer an insight into the daily lives of Tibetans and reveal the significance of Buddhism within society.

The Panchen Lama, the highest ranking Buddhist living in Tibet today, pays an unexpected visit to the local monastery and throws the monks into turmoil. A local hotel owner is worried about the lack business. In the nearby village of Tangmai a young farmer's wife, is rushed into hospital with complications with her pregnancy.

EPISODE TWO - Three Husbands and a Wedding
It's autumn and everyone is pulling together to get in the harvest, as Dundan worries about hailstones flattening his crops. The local government has installed guns to disperse the clouds and this has put the shaman Tseden, who used to protect the fields with spells, out of a job. Tseden is also helping a local family to arrange their daughter's wedding.

EPISODE THREE - Faith, Hope and Charity
The monks begin preparations for New Year, one of Tibet's biggest festivals. Lhakpa, a local rickshaw driver, struggles to earn money as winter approaches. He embarks on a scheme to buy and sell puppies, with disastrous consequences. Hotel owner Jianzang gets involved in a court case which has a surprising outcome. In Tangmai, the doctor cannot cure Lhamo's crippling stomach pains.

EPISODE FOUR - Monks Behaving Badly
In the Pel Kor monastery, the director Choephel discovers that some irreplaceable statues have been stolen and the theft gives the local Communist Party an excuse to put in a government 'work team' to weed out monks they think are behaving badly. Lhakpa heads north in search of a lucrative job on a building site, and Butri gets an unpleasant surprise as she approaches her retirement.

EPISODE FIVE - A Tale of Three Monks
Deputy head lama Tsultrim has to juggle running the monastery whilst complying with a myriad of government restrictions. Young monk Tsephun lives and works with his master Dondrup, a curmudgeonly old lama. Tsephun helps his master with the day-to-day jobs of cleaning and tidying; in return, Dondrup teaches Tsephun the sutras and scriptures, an essential part of becoming a monk.

Tibet is, as we in the West are all too aware, a nation that is extremely cut off by the current Chinese occupiers.

Whilst this in depth series is by no means biased, it does provide amazing insight into the daily lives of the tibetan people and their culture.

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