Scent of Juniper
Directed by Tashi Wangchuk
“Scent of Juniper” is a real life story about a Tibetan exile folk artist, Tsering Dorjee who lives in the San Francisco Bay area and his initiative in passing down centuries old Tibetan literature and performing arts to younger generation Tibetans. He does so through the community weekend culture school, which serves these youngsters who were born and raised in the US. After following Tsering for about six months with a camera, filmmaker Tashi Wangchuk comes out with a beautifully compiled film about displaced Tibetans in the Bay area.
The docudrama styled film opens with a situation where the Tibetan school’s annual cultural day is nearing and the responsibility to arrange a live show falls onto Tsering’s shoulder. Given that there are not many kids willing to learn Tibetan literature and performing arts, Tsering embraces innumerable hardships, initially recruiting kids and then teaching them. Since the school’s annual day attracts a large Tibetan audience from the area, the event also serves as an important platform to attract newer kids to the School.
Tsering then makes door to door visits to request parents to send their kids to the weekend school. He even loses his bike during one of such visits to a neighborhood. At the same time Tsering must ignore people’s discouraging comments and gossip about the futility of his initiative, as he is committed to work for what HH the Dalai Lama had envisioned for the last five decades in exile.
Joy knows no bounds for Tsering when he hears the news that an American couple in Oregon grazes live yaks on the hills. After much uncertainty and hardship the American couple brings three live yaks to the annual event on a trailer truck after driving for five hours. Many elders who were born and raised in Tibet shed tears to see their native animal on US soil while kids and young people watch this never before seen creatures with bewilderment. The yak has now become center of attraction for the day, sidelining kid’s song and dance sequences that Tsering has been grooming for months. Will he be able to steal the limelight back to his show?