Thuten Kesang, New Zealand’s first Tibetan refugee in 1967, recounts his fascinating and inspiring story and the environmental and political issues that have made him a tireless advocate of the Tibetan cause.
Filmed over a period of 22 years by Wellington filmmaker Robin Greenberg (Huloo, Return of the Free China Junk), TEAM TIBET provides a thorough and inspiring account of Tibetan culture in exile through the experience and advocacy of the delightful Thuten Kesang, New Zealand’s first Tibetan refugee. Having run away from the monastery as a child, he was sent by his father to school in India in 1954, where he was raised by Scottish Presbyterians. Unable to return to Tibet after his parents were arrested in the wake of the 1959 uprising, he’s been a fully committed Kiwi since 1967, without ever losing his defining Tibetan identity.
Charismatic and funny, he’s a marvellous storyteller, whether recounting his own personal history or outlining the environmental and political implications of China’s occupation of its ‘Western Treasure House’, where the siblings he can never visit still live. A vital point of contact for the international exile community, as the Dalai Lama himself is happy to testify, he’s been a tireless advocate too for multicultural visibility in Auckland. Greenberg summons up a multitude of admirers, leaving us in no doubt at all that her film is a labour of love, richly deserved.