Spirit Doesn't Come Anymore
/ 1997 / Tibetan / Color / Video / 38 min
Director, Photography: Tsering Rhitar
Editing: Murali Gurappa Music: Nelung Tsering Topten
Cast: Pao Wang Chuk, Tsingdo (Paofs wife), Karma (Paofs eldest
Producer: Sherab Lhawang, Tsering Rhitar
Production Company, Source: Sri Films Pvt. Ltd.
P.O. Box 3064, Kathmandu, NEPAL
Born in Nepal in 1968 to a Sherpa father and a Tibetan mother. Studied
filmmaking in Delhi, India. In 1994, he spent a year in Dharamsala,
India, filming the Dalai Lama and the institutions of the Tibetan
government-in-exile. His work includes Tears of Torture (1994),
a 27-minute documentary about a Tibetan nun who crossed snow passes
and Chinese police checkposts to escape from Tibet on foot, Breath
(1995), The Marriage Proposal (1996), Shower of Virtue and
The Spirit Doesn't Come Anymore is his third and most recent
documentary. A new feature film is scheduled for completion in 1999.
From Nepal, the conflict between a shaman refugee from Tibet and his
son, a friend of the director from his schooldays, caught in the midst
of the contradictions of modern day society and traditional values.
On a personal level, I have known Pao and his family since my childhood.
My mother, being a Tibetan, lived in the same refugee camp till we
moved down to Kathmandu, and I knew Karma (Pao's son) since childhood - we
are of the same age. So the communication during the making of the
film happened rather naturally.
The film is a very personal one and on one level I would say Pao Wangchuk
is a unique individual with a very unusual family vocation. Though
I am not an authority to pass judgment on this art which has survived
over two millenniums in Tibet yet, I think the healing works more
on a psychological level than physical. Many still believe that Pao
could heal them - he is easily accessible and spiritually appropriate
(to the very religious people), and can communicate well with them.
I have encountered, during the course of making the film, many of
Pao's patients - most of them felt some kind of improvements after having
been treated by him, but also many of them said that (though the pain
was gone) they still found in the X-ray the stones in their kidneys
and gall-bladders even after Pao took them out. I find no scientific
basis for this tradition, nor I think is this Buddhist.
On another plane, I take Pao Wangchuk as a metaphor for the corruption
and commercialization of the Tibetan culture in exile as a result
of increasing romanticization, exoticization and exploitation of it
by the media. The film therefore attempts somehow to break the stereotypical
(Western) notions of the people of Himalayan region as being highly
spiritual, ever-smiling and ever-generous, simple folk with no complexities.
In the film the healer is neither a holy man nor a generous person
(nor an unworldly one, like a character from the X-File series),
but a very ordinary person with all the human follies, and he is not
given any special status in his social circle, in fact a lot of people
hate him for his character and behavior towards his wife and children.
COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee