We were privileged to be able to attend the launch screening of Road to Peace last night in London.
Leon Stuparich has produced a beautiful film that shows both the deep humanity and the deep divinity of the Dalai Lama.
The film creates an amazing sense of intimacy by allowing us to share the Dalai Lama’s journey as he ventures out to offer his message to the world.
One of the many gifts of the film is how Leon reveals, very clearly, that the Dalai Lama is, in every moment, the very Peace, Compassion, Joy and Love that he speaks about.
“When I became interested in Buddhism about 15 years ago, I started looking for films about the Dalai Lama. Iâ€™d heard his name many times, I was told by friends and family who had glimpsed him that he was someone special; that he had an incredible energy or presence. I was intrigued. I didnâ€™t want to convert to Buddhism but I did want to find a happier, more peaceful life. He sounded like a man who was an example of how we can live life in a very different way.”
“I wanted to see what he was like as a person, discover his true character and experience what it would be like to meet him. Of all the films I watched, I couldnâ€™t find one that captured the â€˜spiritâ€™ that people spoke of. Again there were glimpses, fleeting moments following him around. Or there were films that had intimate moments with him but they were concentrating on the Dalai Lama as a politician.”
“As much as I am passionate and interested in the Tibet China issue, in those films he seemed depressed. This wasnâ€™t the man that Iâ€™d heard about from people who spoke of meeting him. A man who is always laughing, a man who radiated peace and compassion. A man who made such an impression on the people he had met, it had changed their lives.”
“My search came to an end. I hadnâ€™t found what I was looking for.”
“Fast forward a couple of years to 2007 and fellow film maker and close friend Shanti Scott, was researching a documentary about the train line the Chinese were building from Beijing to the Tibetan capital city Lhasa. Whilst speaking with the Office of Tibet in London, they asked him if weâ€™d like to put forward a proposal to film a record of the Dalai Lamaâ€™s UK visit the following year. Scott picked up the phone to me and immediately I knew the film we should make.”
“We put our proposal together: an intimate fly-on-the-wall film that asked the question â€œwhat is it like to meet the Dalai Lama?â€ We couldnâ€™t believe it when the Office of Tibet accepted our proposal. The deal was that we would create a record of his visit to the UK and we could use the footage to make our own film.”
“Fantastic! But there wasnâ€™t any funding. We had to finance and produce the film ourselves. We were so excited about the prospect of making the film and felt a great responsibility to do the project justice. With such a rare opportunity, we went ahead nonetheless. After all, we were going to spend nearly two weeks with the Dalai Lama!”
“To our surprise, mainstream TV wasnâ€™t interested in a film about the Dalai Lama unless it was either presenter-led or was guaranteed to have some kind of â€œshockâ€ revelation.”
“We were alone with a project that we knew needed to be made, not for us, but the other people who were interested in the Dalai Lama.”
“The filming was incredible and the access we had was unbelievable. On top of that we were granted an interview with him. We couldnâ€™t quite believe our luck. We were so close to the Dalai Lama for 11 days. We had a truly unique perspective of how he was with people every day. Access like this was rarely given.”
The team was brilliant too, made up of some very talented film-makers friends, Ad Ahmed and Rupert Verrinder and of course Shanti Scott. We were also editing on location with the brilliant Tim Coster, which enabled us to start crafting the elements very quickly.
â€œThis film gave me the fantastic feeling of having been with the Dalai Lama and gotten his warmth and love.â€ ~ audience feedback
“That process of editing and test screenings took four years. During that time I met the love of my life and we had two children together. In between juggling parenthood, I was financing Road to Peace with freelance editing work for TV. This meant the process was slower than a typical film production but instinctively, this didnâ€™t seem to matter. The film had to be properly balanced to reflect the Dalai Lama and his message accurately. I also wanted to make sure that Road to Peace would be timeless, so that it would be relevant for people to watch in 50 years time and more.”
Then, in 2011 the Dalai Lama retired from his political leadership of the Central Tibetan Administration to concentrate on sharing his spiritual and humanitarian message.
â€œThis film showed me that Peace starts within.â€ ~ audience feedback
For the full story and more connection to this project please CLICK HERE .
This is a film to support and a message to support …. please buy a copy of the dvd, go to a screening, spread the wordÂ …. let PEACE ring out. To find out about future screenings or to organise a local screening CLICK HERE .
Well done Leon and the team, and very Big Thank You to His Holiness for being open and allowing Leon to make this film!
Big LOVE x