By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, March 2: A film loosely based on the life of Jampel Yeshi, who set himself on fire in March 2012, is nominated for the ‘Best Feature’ category at the prestigious Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF).
Titled Pawo, meaning martyr in Tibetan, the film has a parallel story of its own, including shoestring budget and grueling shooting schedules. However, “unconditional love and passion” enabled of the crew to make the film see day’s light.
“I am extremely happy that Pawo is nominated for Best Feature at a renowned international festival. It’s been a truly remarkable journey and this recognition makes it even more wonderful. It will be a huge opportunity for us to meet other filmmakers, actors and artists,” Sonam Tsetan, the co-director of the film.
Tsetan said that the emotional investment that went into project was deeply personal for him as well for the film’s German director, Marvin Litwak, and everyone involved.
“The project came into being when Marvin and I met 2012 after the Tibetan community had witnessed the self immolation of Jamphel Yeshi in Delhi. The film took nearly three and half years to complete,” Tseten said.
The film follows the story of a young Tibetan boy, his journey into exile and culminates with his self-immolation. Shavo Dorjee, who plays the lead character in Pawo said that he connected with the character as it is the reality of all Tibetans.
“I was there when the self-immolation took place at a rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Like Jampel Yeshi I came from Tibet crossing the Himalayas and have the same experience in exile and my struggle to find my identity as Jampel Yeshi did.”
The film attempts to reflect Tibetan self-immolation as a form of non-violent protest against China’s rule in Tibet. The number of self-immolation is now nearing 150 with two of them taking place this Monday on either side of the Himalayas.
Currently through a crowd-sourcing page, the team is trying to collect funds for its core crew to attend the film international premier at the PBIFF.