Dalai Lama Renaissance

Khashyar Darvich's documentary records an intellectual retreat held at the Tibetan spiritual leader’s compound in northern India several years ago. Forty Westerners trying to achieve consensus on the vague, never-really-explained concept of “synthesis” sounds like a recipe for chaos, and it is. By day three of the event, earnest moderators wring their hands helplessly as mighty New Age egos feud. Fortunately, their respect for the sensible precepts of the immensely likable Dalai Lama saves them from themselves, even though the group’s brightest idea is to try and get his support for a worldwide economic boycott of China. While the glimpses one has of the monks are lovely, most of the film is about Tibet's American friends. Much as one sympathizes, this film forces recognition that the Dalai Lama needs savvier allies in the U.S. than this crowd. They’re quite recognizable as the folks who shove you aside to get to the broccoli down at the organic grocery, only to lecture you on matters animal, vegetable, and spiritual.
Feb. 15-16, 2009

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