Impressive docu packs in a lot of info about religious life among Tibetans living in northernmost India. "Oracles and Demons of Ladakh" will make superb programming in any fests with emphasis on ethnic customs or mountain settings, and those with mystical or religious inclinations.

Impressive docu packs in a lot of info about religious life among Tibetans living in northernmost India — a place so cut off from outside world that traditions which are elsewhere eroded have survived there colorfully intact. “Oracles and Demons of Ladakh” will make superb programming in any fests with emphasis on ethnic customs or mountain settings, and those with mystical or religious inclinations. One can also see tube sales and direct-marketing DVDs in its future.

High, dry and lacking exploitable resources, Ladakh has become a repository of animistic practices imported from Chinese-occupied homelands. Pic-maker Rob McGann traverses the state’s rocky limits, exploring what one talking-head expert calls the region’s “Spooky Buddhism,” full of grimaces, growls and talking in tongues, as opposed to the “California Buddhism” that’s more about sitting in the sun while waiting for a call from your agent. Some of the shamans he visits, both male (lhabas) and female (lhamos) are rather disturbing to watch, and certainly predate Buddhism itself. But they also appear to be genuinely healing to those who make regular pilgrimages to these strange and highly rated members of the community.

Oracles and Demons of Ladakh

Production

An Avenue E Prods. (Brooklyn, N.Y.) production. (International sales: Avenue E.) Produced by Rob McGann. Directed, written by Rob McGann.

Crew

Camera (color, BetaSP), Brian Staudt; editor, Ross Weber; music, Yungchen Lhamo, Ravi Krishnaswami, Philip Glass. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Nonfiction Features), Oct. 5, 2003. Tibetan and English dialogue. Running time: 71 MIN.

With

Yungchen Lhamo, Tsering Samphal, Dr. Robert Thurman, Eric Margolis, Francois Loetwert.
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