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Thangka Festival in Drepung is one of the many highlights of VAJRA SKY OVER TIBET (photo by John Bush/Direct Pictures)

Asia Society
725 Park Ave. at 70th St.
Friday, May 7, free, 6:45 (free tickets available beginning at 6:00)

The Asia Society’s presentation of John Bush’s Yatra Trilogy concludes on May 7 with VAJRA SKY OVER TIBET: JOURNEY INTO AN ENDANGERED WORLD, a reverential documentary that examines the history of the Tibetan people, focusing on the long-standing battle with China. In 1959, the fourteenth Dalai Lama was forced into exile, finding safe haven in India. Although many Tibetans escaped with him, many stayed behind, where they practice their faith under the sharp watch of the Chinese government, which would like to name their own Dalai Lama in time. VAJRA SKY OVER TIBET is the third part of the Yatra Trilogy by producer/director John Bush, following DHARMA RIVER and PRAJNA EARTH, as Bush completes his Buddhist pilgrimage that previously took him to Southeast Asia. Bush, a Western Buddhist himself, gained remarkable access to some of Vajrayana Buddhism’s holiest palaces and sites of worship, including Jokhang Temple in Llasa, the Potala, and the Norbulinka. Bush winds his way through the Drepung Festival, traveling with a Tibetan guide whose name he can’t share because of possible reprisals. Bush narrates much of the film, along with Tenzin L Choegyal, the nephew of the current Dalai Lama, and Dadon, a popular Tibetan singer. The meditative score is by David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, supplemented with devotional music by Dadon and other Himalayan musicians. Although it often plays too much like a travel show on PBS or the Travel Channel, VAJRA SKY, which has been personally endorsed by the Dalai Lama, is an illuminating look into a fascinating culture that is in serious danger of disappearing. “Tibetan civilization,” writes the Dalai Lama as the film begins, “forms a distinct part of the world’s precious common heritage. Humanity would be the poorer if it were to be lost.” For nearly ninety minutes, with beautiful cinematography, captivating music, and gorgeous settings, Bush, who will introduce the Asia Society screening in conjunction with the exhibit “Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art,” takes you deep inside a mysterious, peaceful, and threatened world that you will not soon forget.

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