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11:14 Oct 16 2009

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Filmmaker: respect, understanding help win Tibetans' trust
11:11, October 16, 2009  


Sun Shuyun (left), director of documentary "A Year in Tibet," speaks during an interview with Xinhuanet in Beijing on Tuesday, Oct. 13. (Xinhua Photo)


Respecting and understanding Tibetan culture and customs play a significant role in knowing the ethnic group and can help people win trust from Tibetans, according to an independent filmmaker.

"Tibetans are so different from us Han people... but the differences should not become a source of biases," noted Sun Shuyun, director of the documentary "A Year in Tibet," in an exclusive interview with Xinhuanet on Tuesday.

The five-episode documentary was filmed in Gyantse, the third largest county in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The filming team spent a year recording the life of eight ordinary Tibetans, including a village shaman, a doctor, a junior Party official and a hotel owner.

"When I was in Gyantse, I felt like I was on another planet as everything there was not done the way I had imaged," she recalled.


A poster of "A Year in Tibet," a five-episode documentary on Tibet. (CRI online Photo)


Sun went to stay in a nunnery in the suburbs of Lhsas for a week when she first went to Tibet in 1991. She noticed a nun turning a huge prayer wheel in the nunnery for a whole week. "When asked about her greatest wish, the nun answered that she wished that she could become a man in the next life," said Sun.

According to Tibetan Buddhism, it takes seven transmigrations for a woman to turn into a man. Then after another few transmigrations a man could become a monk. Life was a flick of time, the nun told her.

When Sun and other members of her filming team went to shoot village shaman Tseten, they were told he had gone out to chant sutras for a tree in a neighboring village. He would also perform a religious ritual for the divinity of the tree especially, in the hope that the divinity would ascend the cross beam of the future house and that then they could cut the tree and build a house.

"Their life really differs from ours," the director pointed out. "To me, it is because there are so many differences in the world that our life becomes so rich and diverse."

"Confucius once said that we should respect divinities, but should also stay away from them. There are about 330 million divinities in India and Indians' culture is different from ours. We should not require their culture to be like ours and we should not denounce another culture and see it as being ignorant when it is different from ours," said Sun.

"Tibetan people are very smart. What moved me a lot is that even in such harsh conditions they can still enjoy their life," the filmmaker continued.

She said she was also moved by Tibetans' gratitude. With the absence of sufficient water supply, a good harvest even from very fertile land will be out of the question. Though the locals in a village in Gyantse have prayed the divinity in charge of the place, the yield of the land is still not high. Learning this, the village shaman said that he would perform another religious ritual in the hope of getting forgiveness from the divinity.

"The Tibetan ethnic group knows so much about how to be grateful. Our respect to and understanding of them are very very important, or else, everything is empty," Sun stressed.

Source: Xinhua

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