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A Tibetan woman living in India relives her traumatic escape from Tibet and is propelled on a search for reconciliation and closure.
296 backers pledged $33,889 to help bring this project to life.
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THE SWEET REQUIEM, a film by Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam project video thumbnail
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BACKGROUND

The initial inspiration for the film came from an incident in September 2006 on the 5,800-metre Nangpa-La Pass on the Tibet-Nepal border. Chinese border guards opened fire on a group of Tibetans attempting to escape to India and shot dead a 17-year-old nun and injured several others. 

Shooting on Nangpa La Pass, 30 September 2006
Shooting on Nangpa La Pass, 30 September 2006

This cold-blooded killing, which was captured on video by a Romanian mountain climber, raised many questions in our minds: Who were these escapees and what was their journey like? Why, after nearly 60 years of Chinese occupation, were Tibetans still risking their lives to escape to India? Why were so many of them children? And what happened to them after they made it to India?  

Escape From Tibet (photo courtesy Manuel Bauer)
Escape From Tibet (photo courtesy Manuel Bauer)

Meanwhile, the larger political situation in Tibet has continued to simmer at a critical point. Despite the desperation and magnitude of the ongoing struggle – since 2009, more than 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet in protest against Chinese rule – the world remains largely disinterested or ignorant of what is transpiring in Tibet. 

The Sweet Requiem is an attempt to weave together these disparate strands of the current Tibetan situation – both in exile and in Tibet – through an intimate and personal story that is part psycho-political thriller and part escape drama. At the same time, it is an exploration of the themes of exile, memory and guilt, and the unexpected consequences of the choices we make in life. It is a tale of suffering and forgiving, of deep inner anguish and the desperate need of the exile to find redemption and closure. In this, the story transcends its specific context and touches upon universal concerns.

THE STORY

Dolkar, a 26-year-old exile Tibetan, lives in Delhi. 18 years ago, she escaped from Tibet with her father, making a perilous trek across the Himalayas that ended in tragedy. Dolkar has suppressed all recollection of that traumatic incident. But when she unexpectedly encounters Gompo, the guide who abandoned them during their journey, memories of her escape are reignited and she is propelled on an obsessive search for retribution and closure.    

Dolkar on the bridge to the Tibetan refugee settlement in Delhi
Dolkar on the bridge to the Tibetan refugee settlement in Delhi

Following Gompo through the claustrophobic alleys of the Tibetan refugee settlement in Delhi, Dolkar discovers that Gompo faces his own personal crisis. Flashbacks of her desperate journey with a small group through a harsh and desolate Himalayan terrain punctuate her growing predicament in the present.  

Caught in a web of political intrigue that is much larger than her private quest, Dolkar must reconcile Gompo’s act of treachery with the life-or-death situation he now faces. The two stories moving in tandem, both determined by a series of fateful choices, reach their conclusion as Dolkar and Gompo finally confront each other.

 THE ACTORS 

Tenzing Dolker as Dolkar
Tenzing Dolker as Dolkar

Tenzin Dolker plays the role of Dolkar. She was born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in South India. A dancer, yoga instructor and photographer, The Sweet Requiem is her acting debut.  

Jampa Kalsang as Gompo
Jampa Kalsang as Gompo

Jampa Kalsang is one of the most experienced Tibetan actors in exile and has acted in a number of Tibetan films, including Ritu and Tenzing’s first feature, Dreaming Lhasa. He plays the role of Gompo. He is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

THE TEAM

Ritu & Tenzing on location in Ladakh, India
Ritu & Tenzing on location in Ladakh, India

Producer & Co-Director Ritu Sarin and Writer & Co-Director Tenzing Sonam have been making films for over thirty years. Their films are mostly documentaries but also include a number of video installations and two narrative features – Dreaming Lhasa (2006) and now, The Sweet Requiem. The majority of their work has focused on the subject of Tibet and has attempted to document, question and reflect on the issues of exile, identity, culture and politics that confront the Tibetan people. As artists and filmmakers closely connected to Tibet, they believe strongly that they have a responsibility to give voice to the Tibetan freedom struggle. Their films, many of which are in the Tibetan language, have been at the forefront of developing a new cinematic culture among the exile Tibetan community.

https://thesweetrequiem.com / https://whitecranefilms.com/ 

Shrihari Sathe (photo by Sumedh Sawant)
Shrihari Sathe (photo by Sumedh Sawant)

Producer Shrihari Sathe is a New York-based director and producer. He is the director of 1000 Rupee Note (Ek Hazarachi Note, 2014) and has produced/co-produced several films including Mafak (2018), A Woman, A Part (2016), Dukhtar (2014), Sunrise (2014) and It Felt Like Love (2013).

David McFarland shooting The Sweet Requiem in Delhi
David McFarland shooting The Sweet Requiem in Delhi

DoP David McFarland has photographed projects all over the world. His credits include: Mafak (2018), The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017), The Boy Next Door (2015), The Rambler (2013), Baytown Outlaws (2012) and The Black Tulip (2010). 

Production Designer Aradhana Seth's credits include The Hungry (2017), Angry Indian Goddesses (2015), Vara: A Blessing (2013), West is West (2010), Don (2006), Earth (1999) and Fire (1996). She worked as Art Director on The Darjeeling Limited (2007), The Bourne Supremacy (2004)and Stiff Upper Lips (1998).

Music Composer Michael Montes is a composer writing for films, album projects and all other media. Recent film scores include Don't Leave Home, The Sweet Requiem, Brigsby Bear (Additional Music) and Always Shine.

WHY KICKSTARTER?

Since we made our first fiction feature film more than ten years ago, it hasn’t got any easier to find funding to make a Tibetan film. If anything, the landscape of independent filmmaking has changed dramatically; the space for making films like ours – about marginalised cultures in unfamiliar languages – has shrunk tremendously. Additionally, the growing international influence of China in the cultural sphere and its readiness to apply pressure to control the discourse over its actions in places like Tibet has given rise to a culture of self-censorship that makes it even more difficult to raise funds for films like ours.

But with the support and dedication of our producing partner Shrihari Sathe and an incredible team of cast and crew, we’ve made The Sweet Requiem against all odds and on a shoestring budget. Friends, family and supporters have all chipped in to ensure that we’ve been able to reach this stage. And all this hard work has paid off. The Sweet Requiem will have its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival!

This is a wonderful launch pad for the film and we need to take full advantage of it in order to ensure that it goes out into the world and reaches as many people as possible. To do this, we urgently need funds to prepare the final master for the festival premiere. We need funds to make the poster and the publicity materials and to hire a good publicist without whom the film will disappear in the noise of Toronto. We need your support at this final stage. Together, we can lay another milestone in the continuing journey of Tibetan cinema.

REWARDS

Please check out the incredible Rewards we're offering in the column at the right!

Manuel Bauer images

Renowned Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer specializes in long-term projects. He has a deep bond with Tibet and has extensively photographed the Dalai Lama. In 1995, he followed a father and his daughter on their dangerous 22-day trek from Lhasa to Dharamsala in India. These photographs are from that journey and are a part of the exhibition and book, Escape From Tibet. https://manuelbauer.ch/ 

© Manuel Bauer
© Manuel Bauer

Tenzing Dakpa images

Tenzin Dakpa is one of a new generation of exile Tibetan photographers. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, his works explore themes of exile and alienation. The photographs here are a part of his ongoing project, Periphery. http://tenzingdakpa.com/

© Tenzing Dakpa
© Tenzing Dakpa

Tenzin Dorjee images 

Tenzin Dorjee is the best-known and one of the first professionally trained Tibetan photographers in exile. He studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US. Over the years he has documented various aspects of the Tibetan dispora. These photographs are from his Exile series. https://www.facebook.com/Tenzin-Dorjee-photography-1392326287696969/ 

© Tenzin Dorjee
© Tenzin Dorjee
© Tenzin Dorjee
© Tenzin Dorjee

Pablo Bartholomew stills from The Sweet Requiem (*Project image photo also by Pablo Bartholomew*)

One of India’s most famous photographers, Pablo Bartholomew is the winner of the World Press Photo award for his series on morphine addicts in India (1975), and the World Press Photo of the Year award for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984). He is the recipient of the Padma Shri Award, one of India’s highest civilian honours, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France. These photographs are from Pablo’s shoot during the production of The Sweet Requiem. http://www.pablobartholomew.com/

Movie stills by Pablo Bartholomew (from The Sweet Requiem)
Movie stills by Pablo Bartholomew (from The Sweet Requiem)
Movie still by Pablo Bartholomew (from The Sweet Requiem)
Movie still by Pablo Bartholomew (from The Sweet Requiem)

Tenzing Paljor images

Tenzing Paljor is a self-taught Tibetan photographer. He has dedicated his work to the documentation of endangered cultures and societies, particularly those in the Himalaya. The two photographs here were taken in Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery, Amdo, Eastern Tibet, in 2015. https://www.tenzingpaljor.com/tenzing-paljor.php

© Tenzing Paljor
© Tenzing Paljor
© Tenzing Paljor
© Tenzing Paljor

Tenzing Rigdol images 

Tenzing Rigdol is a contemporary Tibetan artist whose work ranges from painting, sculpture, drawing and collage, to digital, video-installation, performance art and site specific pieces. He has been widely exhibited internationally and his artworks are included in public and private collections around the world. In 2014, Rigdol became one of only two contemporary Tibetan artists to be included in the exhibition Tibet and India: New Beginnings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He is represented by Rossi & Rossi, London & Hong Kong. (http://rossirossi.com/contemporaryartist/tenzing-rigdol/)

JOURNEY OF MY TEACHER (23/25)

TIBETAN ROAD BUILDERS: SHOVEL SONGS (22/35)

PHOTOGRAPH #A 

Empire
Empire

PHOTOGRAPH #B 

Contemplating Gonkar
Contemplating Gonkar

PHOTOGRAPH #C

Scripture Noodle
Scripture Noodle

PHOTOGRAPH #D 

Matchstick
Matchstick

Risks and challenges

There are a few rewards that involve our directors/producers/cast, who are very much in-demand working professionals. And though we are committed to this film it's possible that scheduling these Rewards with Backers may be challenging with our unpredictable day-to-day lives. We pledge to do our absolute best though to deliver those specfic Rewards on time. We appreciate your patience and flexibility in this!

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    BACKER UPDATES

    THANK YOU!
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    DIRECTOR'S MOOD PLAYLIST + MORE

    EXCLUSIVE BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES + MOOD PLAYLIST
    You’ll receive 3 exclusive behind-the-scenes digital images from the film shoot & also get access to a Spotify “mood” playlist, curated by the writer & co-director of the film, with songs to inspire & fuel your creative pursuits!

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    SCRIPT SNEAK PREVIEW + MORE

    POSTCARD + SNEAK PEEK OF SCRIPT
    Immerse yourself in The Sweet Requiem with rare access to a sneak peek of the first 10 pages of the script. You’ll also receive a personalized handwritten postcard from the filmmakers thanking you for your contribution. Plus you’ll also receive the 3 exclusive behind-the-scenes digital images from the film shoot, and get access to our curated mood playlist.

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    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF FILM + SNEAK PEEK OF SCRIPT + PLAYLIST
    You get to take The Sweet Requiem home via a digital download of the finished film (available after commercial digital release) and you’ll get to check out the first 10 pages of the script. Plus you’ll also receive behind the scenes digital images from the film shoot, and get access to our curated mood playlist.

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    BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO + MORE

    BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEOS + DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF FILM + SCRIPT + PLAYLIST
    You’ll receive a digital download of the finished film (available after commercial digital release.) plus you get to be part of the film shoot excitement with exclusive behind-the-scenes videos from the shoot, filmed by one of the co-directors! Plus you’ll get to check out the first 10 pages of the script & the mood playlist.

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    SIGNED FILM POSTER + MORE

    SIGNED FILM POSTER + DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF FILM + more!
    Pin up a piece of The Sweet Requiem at home with the first 11x17 prints of the film’s beautiful poster, signed by the filmmakers and delivered to your doorstep! You’ll also receive a digital download of the film (after commercial digital release), the first ten pages of the script & the mood playlist.

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    NAME ON TSR WEBSITE + MORE

    NAME ON TSR WEBSITE + DIGITAL DOWNLOAD + more!
    With this auspicious amount you’ll officially join The Sweet Requiem team with your name listed on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter! Plus we’ll round out your place on the team with a digital download of the film (after commercial digital release), the first ten pages of the script, the mood playlist, and a digital copy of the poster.

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    ESCAPE FROM TIBET POSTCARDS + MORE

    POSTCARDS FEATURING SWISS PHOTOGRAPHER MANUEL BAUER’S PHOTOS + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    You will receive a set of 5 postcards featuring renowned Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer’s photographs from his “Escape From Tibet” series. You will also join the The Sweet Requiem team with your name listed on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter. Plus we’ll round out your place on the team with a digital download of the film (after commercial digital release), the first 15 pages of the script, the mood playlist, and a digital copy of the poster.

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    DOWNLOADS OF DIRECTORS' FILMS + MORE

    EXCLUSIVE DIGITAL DOWNLOADS OF RITU & TENZING'S EARLY DOCUMENTARIES + DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF TSR + more!
    You will receive digital downloads of Ritu & Tenzing's early documentaries, The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche (1991), A Stranger in My Native Land (1998) and The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet. (1998). You’ll also officially join The Sweet Requiem team with your name listed on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter. Plus we’ll round out your place on the team with the digital download of the film (after commercial digital release), the first 15 pages of the script, the mood playlist, and a digital copy of the poster.

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    FILM CONSULTATION + MORE

    FILMMAKING CONSULTATION WITH PRODUCER OR DIRECTOR + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    You will receive a 60-minute marketing/distribution consultation session (via Skype) from producer Shrihari Sathe or a script/documentary consultation (via Skype) with one of the directors - Ritu or Tenzing.
    Plus we’ll round out your place on the team with the digital download of the film (after commercial digital release), and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    FESTIVAL SCREENING TICKETS + MORE

    TICKETS TO FESTIVAL SCREENING + EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY + SIGNED POSTER + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    You will receive two tickets to a festival screening near you (travel, accommodation not included). You will also receive access to exclusive commentary by the filmmakers over deleted scenes from the film. Plus a 11x9 poster signed by the directors, the mood playlist, entire script, digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release) and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    FESTIVAL SCREENING TICKETS + TOAST

    TICKETS TO FESTIVAL SCREENING + TOAST WITH DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/CAST + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    You will receive two tickets to a festival screening near you plus a toast with director/producer/cast before or after the screening (travel, accommodation not included). Plus you will receive a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release), the entire script, mood playlist and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    U.S/EUROPE/ASIA FESTIVAL PREMIERE + MORE

    TICKETS TO U.S. OR EUROPEAN OR ASIAN FESTIVAL PREMIERE + TOAST WITH DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/CAST + NAME IN CREDITS + more!
    You will receive two tickets to the U.S. or European (incl. UK) or Asian festival premiere plus a toast with directors/producer/cast before or after the screening (travel, accommodation not included). Plus you will receive the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release) and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    PRINT STILLS BY PABLO BARTHOLOMEW + MORE

    FIVE PRINTS BY PHOTOGRAPHER PABLO BARTHOLOMEW + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    One lucky person will receive a set of five movie stills from The Sweet Requiem (11x17 inches) by photographer Pablo Bartholomew. Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    BRAND NEW TENZING RIGDOL ARTWORK

    TIBETAN ROAD BUILDERS: SHOVEL SONGS (22/35). YOUR CHANCE TO GET A BRAND NEW LIMITED EDITION SIGNED ARTWORK BY CONTEMPORARY TIBETAN ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL FROM HIS ONGOING PROJECT ON TIBETAN ROAD BUILDERS. Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    TENZING RIGDOL SIGNED PHOTO #B + MORE

    LIMITED EDITION SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH BY TIBETAN ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL + more!
    You will receive a limited edition signed photograph titled "Contemplating Gonkar" (#B) by Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol. Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    TENZING RIGDOL SIGNED PHOTO #C + MORE

    LIMITED EDITION SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH BY TIBETAN ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL + more!
    You will receive a limited edition signed photograph of "Scripture Noodle" (#C) by Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol. Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    SIGNED TENZING DAKPA PHOTOGRAPHS + MORE

    FOUR SIGNED PRINTS BY PHOTOGRAPHER TENZING DAKPA + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    One lucky person will receive a set of four siged prints (11x17 inches) of photographs by up-and-coming Tibetan photographer Tenzing Dakpa. Plus you will receive the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release), and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    TENZIN DORJEE SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHS + MORE

    SET OF TWO SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHS BY TENZIN DORJEE + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    One lucky person will receive a set of two signed prints of photographs (11x17 inches) by well-known Tibetan photographer Tenzin Dorjee. Plus the playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    TENZING PALJOR SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHS + MORE

    TWO SIGNED PRINTS BY PHOTOGRAPHER TENZING PALJOR + NAME ON WEBSITE + more!
    One lucky person will receive a set of two photographs (36x21 inches) printed on archive paper and hand signed by Tibetan photographer Tenzing Paljor. Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    BRAND NEW TENZING RIGDOL ARTWORK!

    JOURNEY OF MY TEACHER (23/25). YOUR CHANCE TO OWN A BRAND NEW SIGNED, LIMITED EDITION ARTWORK BY CONTEMPORARY TIBETAN ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL . Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    TENZING RIGDOL SIGNED PHOTO #A + MORE

    LIMITED EDITION SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH BY TIBETAN ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL + more!
    You will receive a limited edition (3/12) signed photograph (#A) by Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol titled "Empire". Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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    STAY + TENZING RIGDOL SIGNED PHOTO #D

    2-NIGHTS STAY NEAR DIRECTORS’ HOME IN DHARAMSHALA, INDIA + SIGNED PHOTO #D BY ARTIST TENZING RIGDOL + more!
    You will get to have a two-night stay at a boutique Tibetan guest house near the directors’ beautiful home in Dharamshala, including delicious two meals with them (travel not included). You will also receive one limited edition (3/12) signed photograph (#D) titled "Matchstick" by Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol! Plus the mood playlist, entire script, a digital download of the movie (available after commercial digital release), commentary over deleted scenes, and your name on the film’s website as a Crowdfunding Supporter!

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Funding period

- (29 days)