Dharamshala — Tibet TV of the Tibetan government's Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) awarded the first ever ‘TTV's Take-Off film grant 2017’ to three Tibetan youth totaling 900,000 Indian rupees ($13,875 USD) on October 25 at Lhakpa Tsering memorial hall.
The new award, aimed at encouraging aspiring Tibetan filmmakers was awarded by President Dr Lobsang Sangay to the three finalists, Thupten Sonam Dorjee, Kalsang Jigme and Jamphel Sherab. The finalists' short films are based on gender equality and women empowerment; Tibetan Muslims; and the Tibetan Special Frontier Force (also known as Establishment 22) respectively.
The grant consists of 300,000 Indian rupees and an opportunity to study film making under the mentorship of seasoned Tibetan film makers like Tenzing Sonam (Dreaming Lhasa, The Sun Behind the Clouds, etc), Tenzin Tseten Choklay (Bringing Tibet Home) and Kalsang Rinchen (Phantoms of Chittagong).
Addressing the press conference, President Dr Lobsang Sangay said: “We are very happy to present this grant today. This is a new initiative by the Central Tibetan Administration to encourage budding Tibetan filmmakers in the exile community to make short feature /documentary films for Tibet TV.”
“Like Hollywood and Bollywood, our hope is to see a growing Tibetan film circuit ‘Tiblywood” in the future. Countries like Nepal, Mongolia and Bhutan, although small and growing, have a vibrant film industry. Through the films they make, they reach out to a huge number of people around the world,” he said.
“They say that 5% of the public read books and newspapers, 10% listen to the radio and about 50% watch television. But over 70% of the public watch films. So it’s a powerful medium. Therefore, through film making, we want to reach out to a large audience to explain about Tibet and the situation inside Tibet,” the President added.
“This film grant is an important initiative for us. I got inspired about this film grant initiative by attending the Dharamshala International Film festival (DIFF) and other film festivals.”
“When I attended these film festivals, one thing that struck me was most of the films showcased were mainly made by non-Tibetans. Moreover, I heard about lack of funding as one of the reasons for the dearth of films by Tibetans. So I felt the Kashag could do something about it. So this is how we came up with this film grant,” Dr Sangay said, adding that he hopes to see 90% of the films showcased at the film festivals to be Tibetan-made in the future.
“This is a seed that we are planting today. Over time, the quality and content of our films will improve and hopefully one day a Tibetan may also go on to win an Oscar. For the time being, lets just be hopeful,” he said.
The Tibet TV Take-Off film grant was announced in May this year to facilitate and encourage filmmaking activities of Tibetans and to produce content for wider dissemination and posterity. The film could be either in Tibetan or English accompanied by subtitles and was open to all Tibetans in the diaspora.