Ritu Sarin

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Ritu Sarin, Kabir Bedi and Tenzing Sonam

Ritu Sarin is an Indian film director and producer based in Dharamshala, India. was born in New Delhi. She studied at Miranda House in Delhi University and went on to finish her studies at California College of the Arts in Oakland. She is the recipient of Miranda House’s 2010 Distinguished Alumna Award. Sarin and her husband, Tenzing Sonam, and have been making films since their student days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 80s. Since then they have shared a career that has spanned several documentaries, video installations and one dramatic feature film.

Life and Career[edit]

Ritu Sarin did her MFA in Film and Video from California College of the Arts (CCA).

While at CCA, Sarin made a number of experimental films, including Hercules and The Mind Gap. In 1985, she and Sonam worked on their first film together, The New Puritans: The Sikhs of Yuba City. Since then they have collaborated on all their films.

In 1987, Sarin moved to London with Tenzing Sonam. Here, they began work as programme directors at the Meridian Trust, a Buddhist and Tibet-related film archive and production company. While at the Meridian Trust, they documented a number of historic trips made by the Dalai Lama, including his Nobel Peace Prize visit to Norway and his first trip to the Russian Buddhist republics of Kalmykia and Buryatia. They left the Meridian Trust in 1991 and founded their own company, White Crane Films. All their films since then have been made under its banner.

Ritu and Tenzing were married in 1987. They have two children.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film
1985 The New Puritans: The Sikhs of Yuba City
1991 The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche
1992 Tibet
1993 The Trials of Telo Rinpoche
1997 Fish Tales
1997 A Stranger in My Native Land
1998 The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet
1999 Big Treasure Chest for Future Children: Tibet
2000 rights... & wrongs
2005 Dreaming Lhasa
2007 The Thread of Karma
2007 Some Questions on the Nature of Your Existence
2009 The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle For Freedom
2012 When Hari Got Married

Other Activities[edit]

Sarin was a founding member of the Bay Area Friends of Tibet in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the earliest Tibet support groups in the US.

She and Sonam organised the first-ever Tibet Film Festival in London in March 1992 in collaboration with the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). And in March 2000, they organised Tibet 2000: Survival of the Spirit, a ten-day festival of Tibet at the India International Centre in New Delhi, which included film screenings, photographic exhibitions, the creation of a sand mandala, performances by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, seminars and panel discussions by well-known writers and scholars, and a public talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Ritu and Tenzing participated in the KHOJ Marathon with Hans Ulrich Obrist in New Delhi on 22 January 2011. She was also a part of the Engadin Art Talks in Zuoz, Switzerland, in August 2012, a symposium on art and architecture directed by Beatrix Ruf, director and curator of the Kunsthalle Zurich, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programme at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

In 2012, Ritu and Tenzing founded the non-profit organisation, White Crane Arts & Media, to fulfil their long-held desire to promote contemporary art, cinema and independent media practices. Its first project, in collaboration with Khoj International Artists’ Association, is an artists’ residency to be held in Dharamshala in October 2012. It will then present the first Dharamshala International Film Festival from 1st to 4th November 2012.


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