Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset is a brilliantly shot and directed Russian documentary released in 2008. Vitali Manski brings the daily life of the Dalai Lama home with remarkable and unforgettable intimacy. Granted total access to His Holiness for 24 hours, this is a day in the life of the Dalai Lama from when he wakes up at 3:00 am until his bedtime at dusk. Starting with his morning fitness routine (yes, treadmill and all) and continuing on through the private audiences, press conferences, blessings he imparts every day and even watching nature shows on television (including a clip of an interview with Johnny Carson), it is a comprehensive and compassionate document of his everyday habits. As the sun begins to set and with his duties completed, the Dalai Lama sits down with the filmmakers for a wide-ranging interview covering topics related to the essence of the Universe, the gap between rich and poor and the role an individual has to play in religion and contemporary society. It is a most beautifully conceived film not shying away from creating visuals that pose the question What does his holiness experience when he meditates? while artistically transcending the perceived limitations of filming in natural light to paint with light with no less subtlety than what can be found in compositions achieved by the masters of light and shadow in studio settings.

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