10 QUESTIONS FOR THE DALAI LAMA (Rick Ray). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (October 25) at the Rainbow Market Square. Rating: NNN
Filmmaker Rick Ray was granted 45 minutes to pose 10 questions to the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and this modest but entertaining documentary is the result.
Ray, a cinematographer and writer/director, has travelled the world making films on religion, but he's always been especially fascinated by the wisdom and mischievous laugh of the man he compares to Gandhi and Martin Luther King. So when he received an e-mail -- yes, the Dalai Lama and his people are wired -- granting him one-on-one time, he jumped at the opportunity.
It takes a while to warm to Ray's earnest narration; much of the film is structured as a first-person voyage of discovery. To understand the man, the director feels he must live for a time in a Tibetan monastery and, while his camera picks up some beautiful footage of the monks' humble lives, his observations often sound naive and obvious.
That said, Ray's information on Tibetan history and religion is formidable, and he provides a thorough look at China's occupation of Tibet.
The climax, of course, is the interview with Kundun himself, and Ray interweaves the man's thoughtful, if sometimes evasive, answers -- often punctuated with his enigmatic laugh -- with fascinating footage of Tibet and its exiled people.
The film is obviously being released this week to coincide with the Dalai Lama's appearance on Wednesday (October 31)