A documaker of Tibetan descent gets back in touch with her troubled country’s past in “Dreaming Lhasa,” a sensitive if literal-minded tale that demonstrates how Tibet’s national identity is of a piece with its spiritual heart. Vet documentarians Ritu Sarin and Tensing Sonam’s feature (funded partly by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Gere) rings of the autobiographical as it shows how crafting a docu can be like a sleuthing operation, and captures a sense of Tibetan exiles’ lives in India. Fests with global focus will show great interest, but non-fest life looks limited to ancillary.
Lensing her latest docu in Dharamsala, Indian home to Tibetans, Gotham-based Karma (Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso) interviews former monk Dhondup (Jampa Kalsang), who describes his torture at hands of Chinese invaders. Affected by his story and manner, Karma helps Dhondup search for a long-vanished man so he can deliver his mother’s charm box to him. Karma’s jealous assistant Jigme (Tenzin Jigme), however, thinks Dhondup is using Karma to get a green card. The quest leads to some fascinating facts — such as how ex-CIA Tibetan recruits became monks — even if the ideas expressed are fairly flat on screen.