Compassion in Exile” is a touching and reverential biography of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, who was forced into exile after the Chinese invaded his country.
Filmmaker Mickey Lemle traces the story of the Dalai Lama from his discovery in a rural farmhouse as a child by Buddhist monks, who believed him to be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, through his 40-year campaign to return to his country.
Prior to the 1950 Chinese invasion, the Dalai Lama was trained to take the spiritual reins of power in Tibet, but had not been prepared to be an actor on the world stage.
After years of religious training, isolated from other children, the Dalai Lama passed his religious examinations, which included debating senior religious leaders before an audience of 20,000 monks. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese invaded the tiny mountain country of 6 million, claiming it was part of China.
The Dalai Lama continued to live in Tibet until 1959, but the atmosphere of religious and political intolerance became so difficult that he fled to India in 1959. Since then, he has provided a safe haven for thousands of Tibetan refugees who have escaped the repression of the Chinese regime.
In interviews with filmmaker Lemle, the Dalai Lama is portrayed as a modest, even shy, man with an infectious giggle. He discusses his spiritual goals, which have been hampered by the political leadership that has been thrust upon him by his country’s plight.
Last part of the docu is devoted to interviews with refugees about the rape, torture and political repression that they suffered at the hands of the Chinese. These interviews are contrasted with the stonewalling of a U.S. State Dept. official on Tibet policy and the welcoming of the Dalai Lama by the American Congress.
The U.S. has a longstanding policy of not interfering in the Tibetan conflict , hoping instead to influence China toward liberalization. While this policy is unlikely to change in the near future, this episode of “P.O.V.” does document the suffering of the Tibetan people as the world stands by, helplessly watching.