Reviewed by Wangyal
I will be honest – I only had to watch this film once to enjoy it as an entertainment but I had to watch it twice to fully appreciate its artistic merit. I am talking about a short film called MissTaken directed by Thupten Nyima Chakrishar, a Tibetan filmmaker in New York educated in TCV, CST and later in the United States. His earlier work includes the documentary “Following Kunsel” about a talented young Tibetan singer in New York.
This short film, MissTaken, is only 5 minutes long. It is professionally shot, delightfully acted and directed, and elevates the genre of Tibetan diaspora filmmaking to a new level. It is the story of Kunga (played by Tibetan actor and comedian Sonam Wangdu of Phun Anu Thanu fame), who takes a cab from Manhattan to his Brooklyn apartment. He and the cab driver (played by budding actor and seasoned photographer Lobsang Choephel) strike up a conversation that unfolds in unexpected ways leading up to the climax at the end. It is a short Tibetan story set in the center of New York City, about human relationships, and interconnection and interdependence - and anyone who knows how small the exile Tibetan world can be will immediately relate to the strange coincidence at the heart of the story.
It is very impressive how the filmmaker is able to tell this complex story in 5 minutes using non-linear narrative to keep the viewer in suspense till the surprise ending. In addition to wonderful filmmaking, this short film showcases excellent performances by the three main actors. Lobsang Choephel, who plays the taxi driver and is a newcomer to Tibetan cinema, is a wonder. We already know and admire Sonam Wangdu's interpretations and performances. The girlfriend impresses as the suspicious and super-bossy girl-friend; however, it’s a shame we only get to see her uni-dimensionally. It would have been a nice change to see her smile at least once, but she maintains her tough exterior never once letting up. But it’s a short film, so perhaps there wasn't much room and time to explore the full range of her emotions and personality.
Sonam Wangdu impresses but this is no surprise because he is a seasoned actor, and after seeing his performance in Phun Anu Thanu and Dreaming Lhasa, we know what he is capable of. How can we forget his virtuoso performance in his short role as the travel agent in Dreaming Lhasa? Sonam’s character captures the agony of an alienated lover very well. But Lobsang Choephel is a discovery; he doesn’t just play a taxi driver, he becomes the taxi driver. He needs make no beginner's excuse; his performance is understated, assured and supremely convincing.
Over all, it’s a wonderful story -taut, original and compelling- written by Thupten Nyima and Sonam Wangdu. There are no extraneous parts; everything is there for a purpose and builds up to the climactic ending. The film has lovely original music and songs by Tendor (of SFT). The filmmaker Thupten Nyima himself sings one song, and very beautifully.
You can tell that the short film was made on a shoe-string budget. If they can make such a good film on pittance, imagine what they could accomplish with more resources and time at their disposal. Hats off to all involved in the making of this short film. We hope you will continue to entertain and inspire us.
This film is in the running to be among the top 10 short films. You can watch the film and vote here: http://www.babelgum.com/html/clip.php?clipId=3005437
It is very easy to vote – just click on the vote button that appears on the top center of the screen. One computer can vote once every 24 hours!
Please send this link to your friends and encourage them to vote, so that these Tibetan filmmakers get the recognition they deserve.
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