“As the world’s only Buddhist lama who also makes movies that screen at major international festivals and have received commercial releases, Khyentse Norbu is quite the operator. Under his Buddhist name Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, he conducts sessions in India and his native Bhutan and, as he is thought to be the incarnation of 19th-century Buddhist saint Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, he supervises Tibet’s Dzongsar monastery. (…) The movie, in fact, is a kind of puzzle palace. Although the milieu creates anonymity (“anonymity,” the guru says, “is power”) and therefore collectivity, the movie trains its gaze on an individual whom we see before he dons his mask. Even more perversely, he’s the tale’s ostensible hero until he commits such an unexpectedly heinous act that loyalties are ripped to shreds. While Hema Hema appears on the surface to be a morality play, it actually undermines this at several steps, right up to the end in a techno dance club. Norbu, who has written that when we watch a movie “something in our hearts is telling us that we know it’s not real, that it’s not a big deal,” has made a movie designed to do nothing but provoke questions. It’s an interesting gambit for an international man of cinema, and nirvana.” (Robert Koehler, Cinema Scope)

Around The World in 14 Films 2017, presented by Pia Marais


+++ Berlin Premiere +++

Country: Bhutan, Hong Kong 2016
Production: Tsong Tsong Ma Production
Cast: Tshering Dorji, Sadon Lhamo, Thinley Dorji, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Xun Zhou
Format: DCP / colour
Length: 96 min.
Language: Dzongkha OV / English subtitles
Festivals: Locarno, Toronto, Busan, London, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Taipeh, Osaka, Vilnius, Munich etc.
Awards: Malaysia, Toronto etc.