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Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam: Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Awardee 2017!


Live and work in Dharamshala and New Delhi.

Ritu was born in New Delhi. After graduating from Miranda House, Delhi University, she did her MFA in film and video from the California College of Arts.

Tenzing was born in Darjeeling to Tibetan refugee parents. He graduated from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and then studied broadcast journalism at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Working through White Crane Films, they have made more than 20 documentaries, several video installations and one dramatic feature. A recurring subject in their work is the issue of Tibet, with which they have been intimately involved: personally, politically and artistically. Through their films, they have attempted to document, question and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people. Another concern is the transformation and transmutation of societies through globalisation. They are the directors of the Dharamshala International Film Festival, one of India’s leading independent film festivals, which they founded in 2012.

Music as an expression of political protest has a long and storied history in resistance movements across the world. But its current iteration in Tibet, where popular singers have turned to politics and deployed music to openly defy a repressive regime, represents a new phase in the Tibetan freedom movement, which has continued to reinvent and rejuvenate itself despite nearly six decades of Chinese rule. The challenge as artists is to take the plight of these incarcerated musicians and create a work on the subject that simultaneously rescues its proponents from their enforced disappearance and connects their songs to the more universal impulse for freedom and justice that expresses itself through music. During their residency at the Bellagio Centre, Sarin & Sonam plan to carry forward the investigations begun in their recent, multi-media exhibition Burning Against the Dying of the Light, which examined forms of protests and the circulation of dissonant materials amongst the Tibetan community in exile.