The Documentary

WITH UNDIVIDED FAITH is an educational documentary film that explores and examines contemporary life in the Tibetan Buddhist exile settlement of Bir, in the northern India state of Himachal Pradesh. The purpose of this 60 minute video documentary is to educate people around the world about the conditions facing Tibetans and the threats against their very unique and endangered culture. As well, this documentary examines the issues, commitment, and challenges of exiled Tibetans in preserving their cultural heritage while facing great odds. It is further the intent of this project to motivate people in actively supporting the Tibetan people both locally and globally in their efforts to protect their culture, and to secure their homeland in Tibet so that they may justly live again as free and sovereign people.

This documentary primarily chronicles the daily lives of three distinct families living in the Tibetan exile settlement of Bir. The Bir settlement is made up of three sub-divisions; Bir Tibetan Society (BTS), Dege division, and Nangchen division, all with different histories, geographic origins, and monastic affiliations. The documentary visits with one family from each of these three divisions, and through these families show how the community functions both as a unified whole and as three distinct sub-divisions with their own priorities, responsibilities, and needs. In very personal terms these families illustrate the Tibetan people's commitment to family, community, religion, as well as the dedication and purpose necessary to ensure the survival of their traditional culture.


Through compelling interviews Tibetan elders share their personal testimonies and remembrances of fleeing Chinese occupation and oppression in their homeland, making the hazardous and exhausting trip across the Himalayas to freedom, and their lives as exiles. These stories are contrasted with those of the younger generation sharing their experiences as Tibetans born in exile where Tibet is more of an abstraction, their having no direct experience with their cultural homeland. Among the lay population we experience and examine the daily rhythms of life and on-going concerns within the Bir settlement as individuals within the community struggle to survive with their cultural heritage and spiritual values intact.


Also featured is the daily life and ritual in the four monasteries within Bir. WITH UNDIVIDED FAITH looks at the inter-connectedness, as well as unique struggles of the monastic and lay communities, examining their shared, as well as distinct concerns and methods for preserving the Tibetan way of life. The documentary explores the hopes, fears, and dreams of Tibetans as they look at the future health and sustainability of their culture, and the immense obstacles that must be overcome. We share their sorrows and joys, failures and successes, the mundane, and the extraordinary.

The documentary further examines the community's means of economic sustenance and looks at the economic and cultural interface between Tibetans and the non-Tibetan populations immediately surrounding Bir. Special attention will focus on the strength and role of the family, as well as educational methods and spiritual practices utilized by the Tibetans in transferring knowledge and fostering pride in their cultural heritage to the younger generations. The effect on lives of families divided by the tragedy of political exile is explored, as is the meaning and necessity of a free Tibetan homeland, examined through the diverse experiences, needs, and perspectives of these exiled Tibetans.

The difficult adjustments, hardships, sometimes tragic consequences, and often glorious triumphs in adapting to a new life in exile is eloquently documented in this film. Though much smaller than many of their historic communities in Tibet, as well as separated often by great distances from one another in alien countries, these exile communities illustrate what a people under extreme duress can accomplish with undivided faith, sacrifice, commitment, determination, and great effort.