Mountainfilm in Telluride: “Shining Spirit”

Mountainfilm in Telluride: “Shining Spirit”

[Elisabeth Gick speaks to Jamyang Yeshi about “Shining Spirit”, click “Play”]

Jamyang_Yeshi (editor’s note: After publishing it was pointed out that this post was written by Elisabeth Gick. My apologies.)

Telluride and Tibet have more in common than alliteration. Mountain cultures nurture individuals unafraid to reach for the sky. They support shining spirits such as Jamyang Yeshi, the subject of a celluloid study, “Shining Spirit” by filmmaker Karen McDiarmid.

“Shining Spirit” is featured at the 32nd annual Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival. Jamyang is also scheduled to perform his music throughout the long weekend, May 28 – May 31, chock full of lectures (the all-day Moving Mountains Symposium on extinction is Friday), breakfast talks, art, music – and film – in support of endangered species, cultures, and ideas.

Born into a nomadic family in the Tibetan province of Amdo (now incorporated into the northern part of the Chinese province of Sechuan), Jamyang entered the local monastery as a boy. The dulcet tones of his liquid voice set him apart from the other monks from the start.

Jamyang Yeshi was, however, unhappy with life under Chinese rule. He escaped to India in 1998, settling in Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and the largest Tibetan community in exile in the world. In Dharamsala, Jamyang established a performing arts group that immediately attracted world-wide attention. They were invited to major Tibetan festivals, notably in Moscow in 2004, and Banff, Canada in 2005. Once he hit Canada, Jamyang decided to stay put. Today he is a Canadian resident.

In 2006, with a little help from his friends, Jamyang Yeshi began working on a dream project: to be reunited with his family through music. The friends traveled to Amdo with songs recorded by Jamyang stored on a laptop. Mark and Karen McDiarmid also brought a camera along to capture the response by Jamyang’s family members to the singing, including the moment his father, two brothers, a sister and a nephew decided to “join” Jamyang in song.

Back in Canada, the tracks got mixed, the film sequences, cut and edited: “Shining Spirit,,” a “testament to the power of music, the resilience of the Tibetan culture, and the enduring bond of a family separated by politics and geography” was born.

Find the full details of Mountainfilm’s Festival schedule here:

Final Mountainfilm in Telluride film selections available at:

To learn more about Jamyang and the film, click the “play” button and listen to Elisabeth Gick’s podcast.

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