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Tibet's children

The treatment
The form. The content. The contemplation.
A filmic documentation about young Tibetans living in exile and about the efforts of committed artists and civilians to support them in preserving their cultural identity.
What is the situation like for Tibetan children and teenagers who live in exile? What chances are there for the next generation, far away from their home countries, without any parents? Does a young person understand the meaning of cultural identity? Religious principles such as compassion, tolerance and nonviolence? What kind of life models will be valid for them? What exactly is the Tibetan conflict to them? How important is art to them? Where do they find the feeling of security, love and trust in a foreign country? Can you learn how to become happy? Is there an alienation among the families because of life in exile? And can your own identity persist in the Western countries at all?
This is the very point from where the film starts to investigate, silhouetted against other documentary films on Tibetan topics. The film stages the facts without embellishment, documenting the renouncements and the difficulties that these children and teenagers have to take into account. Yet, they prove themselves, demonstrating their strength and their will. And they have got a target - their cultural independence.
Tibet’s Children also gives evidence of the engagement of people like the monk Lama Tenzin Sangpo, the musician Monika Stadler or the entrepreneur Günter Hager. Their points of view are clearly defined. A change of perspective with the help of Tibetans youths as white hope for a whole nation.

Escape into exile – reception centre
Children who flee to North India from Tibet first come into the so called reception centre, the reception camp for all Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala. Here, they are supplied with everything they need, later on they are handed over to Tibetan Children’s Villages.
Most of the children have left Tibet on their own. The Children’s Villages are overstrained since hundreds of children from Tibet arrive here every year. Since the 1980ies, about 16,000 children have been accepted in the Tibetan Children’s Villages.

The Chinese education system
In the course of the last thirty years more than 1.000 schools have been built by the Chinese in Tibet, yet with a lower level of quality than in China. For this reason, many children are sent to China for their education. While they receive a better education than would be possible in Tibet, many of the pupils only know to speak Chinese as soon as they return back home after seven years.
According to the Free Tibet Campaign in London, England, the education of Chinese children in Tibet is superior to the one Tibetan children have access to. Tibetan language and culture are regarded as a handicap. Only few children can attend higher schools at all. Graduates of secondary schools will only have an occupational outlook if they speak Chinese fluently. Official information says that children of Chinese immigrants in Tibet account for 3.7% of all young people, yet occupying 35% of all seats in secondary schools. According to data from Lhasa, the actual figure rather amounts to 60%. The school system also promotes race discrimination and deliberately aims at the elimination of political dissent.

The Tradition
The art. The culture. The religion.
Thangka painting

There is hardly any nation in the world who distinguishes itself as much as the Tibetans in linking religion and culture. The art of Thanka painting is classified as an old tradition and is handed down in only a few centers. Thangkas are Tibetan picture rolls which are created after strictly traditional rules, often treating religious topics. Which religious functions do Thangkas have, the most important artistic products of Tibet?
The school in Patlikul makes an essential contribution to the conservation of this old Tibetan cultural heritage and thus to the World Heritage. Pupils learn how to paint according to the Sacred Geometry, the golden ratio.
The religion
Buddhism reached Tibet as the last Asian country only in the 7th century of our calculation of times, nearly one thousand years after the birth of Buddha. Buddhism is a spiritual doctrine, and seen from a Western point of view does not resemble a traditional religious belief, especially compared with monotheistic religions, but rather a philosophy based on the transmissions of Sidhatta Gautama. This belief and the profound spirituality of the Tibetans is reflected in their fascinating culture which makes Tibet so special. Out of this religion and culture Tibetans draw their strength to tolerate the occupying forces. Despite of all difficulties, the fire of tradition is handed down from generation to generation.
The fourteenth Dalai Lama has made Buddhism very popular in the Western world. For his efforts to dissolve the Tibet conflict he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989. Since then he has been adored by many people all over the world, regardless of their religious belief. The Dalai Lama is the religious leader. Over the last years, he has been fighting more intensely against the growing foreign infiltration of his country, against the loss of the Tibetan identity and against the doom of his people.

The film concept
The style. The format. The basic points.

The cravings, the dreams, the perspectives of children and young people will be the material this story is made from. During their everyday lives at the Thangka painting school in Patlikul, at the orphanage in Bir and at the monastery in Dharamsala, residence of the Dalai Lama. It also shows the efforts of committed Tibetans living in exile and of the association Save Tibet in Austria and Nepal. With all the ups and downs.
For the first time, the spectator gets an insight into the real life of these Tibetan children, going on a journey across North India, Nepal and back to Austria.
The film illustrates the variety of a vivid Tibetan culture, art and tradition, presenting old monasteries and temples, showing the beauty of North India and Nepal. It tries to make familiar with the wisdom of Buddha and to show what compassion and positivity may provoke.
The film Tibet’s Children goes into deep with each single protagonist concerning their answers. It demonstrates that the fate of the children and teenagers requires much more of them than severe discipline. Yet it also shows that new perspectives come up with the help of an intense teaching.
The mindsets and the perspectives of the children and youths as well as of the adults are interweaved in a kaleidoscope way with one aim - to be able to answer the guiding theme of the film, “Can we learn to be happy?”

The definition of the target group
The values. The consciousness. The communication.

The film addresses to people aware of their own identities as modern and responsible Europeans who like to see authentic films aloof from pseudo-problems. A documentary film especially for those who like to change their points of view to know more about integrity, moral courage and cosmopolitanism.
Tibet’s Children
Is a film about insights. Challenges. Commitment. Moral courage.
Tibet’s Children
Is a film about observation. Experience. Reflection. Inspiration.
The topic of “humanity” has been gaining importance and will continue to do so over the next years. The great success of films like “Little Buddha” by Bernardo Bertolucci, ”Rad der Zeit” by Werner Herzog, “Good Bye Tibet” and “Wie zwischen Himmel und Erde” by Maria Blumencron shows that films about people who demonstrate moral courage and follow a path of peacefulness are more popular than ever before.

Script and direction: Carola Mair
Camera: Erika Michalke, Angie Bräuml, Michael Eisenbach
Film editing: Erik Etschel
Sound recording: Armin Lehner
Dubbing: Lisa Fuchs
Graphics: Nathalie Felder
Production assistant: Elisabeth Stadler
Music: EOTO, Monika Stadler, Christian Maurer Qintet, Tenzin Tseyong, Lama Tenzin Sangpo



  Carola Mair • Mozartstraße 9 • A-4800 Attnang-Puchheim
Tel.: 07674 / 65225 • Handy: 0699 / 10803030 • e-mail: caromax10[@]


carola maier