Everyday Activist - Tashi and the Monk

Posted on Thursday, April 02, 2015 at 04:00 PM

Review: Tashi and The Monk

Movie Review by Everyday ActivistCalgaryMovies.com

The documentary Tashi and the Monk has had been seen by audiences all over Alberta (and the world) in the last few months, as it was chosen for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. If you missed the screenings of this award winner (Best film, Mountain Culture) at the Banff Mountain film festival, you have the opportunity to catch it on April 11, 2015 at the Banff Centre along with another great film, Marmato.

While the film falls under mountain culture, it’s about social justice for the poor, including a young girl named Tashi as she struggles to adjust to life in her new surroundings, a community in the Himalayas founded by Buddhist Monk Lobsang. Her mother passed away and her father abandoned her. Like many children who come from such circumstances, she’s a bit unruly with many behavioral issues and a tough time making friends with her new 84 siblings.

Monk Lobsang had his own unhappy childhood and decided to make peace with his past by opening up a center in the Himalayas. After training under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he left behind a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to come home to help solve some of the problems in his native land. His experiences have helped him bond with the children and the staff at the center, including young Tashi as he tells the children a story about a naughty young boy who ended up making a difference.

Moving away from Tashi, the film makers tell a story about desperate parents and grandparents who want their children to go to the center. In so many instances people would rather give up their children in hopes that they might have a better future, than try to raise them in impoverished conditions. Monk Lobsang has deep regrets that he can’t save them all. The center is already over capacity with staff struggling to maintain and stretch what meager resources they have. The children are two to a bed and the teachers have classes with different ages, which make it harder for Tashi to receive special attention to deal with her issues.

The end has a hopeful message. Some of the children are able to leave the community in order to go to school for further education. Even though they lived in an isolated village, they feel prepared to take chances in the world outside. Tashi, with her gift of youth along with lots of love and support, also manages to find her place.

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