Dalai's Kids 

Dalai Lama children documented in film to premiere Sunday

More than a year prior to the Dalai Lama's Sun Valley appearance last September, the kernels of what was to become a series of films created by the nonprofit production company A Window to the World began taking root at Boise State.

"When I heard the Dalai Lama was coming," says producer and Boise State student filmmaker Saandra Steinfelt, "I sent a letter to a Buddhist friend—who sent it to a Buddhist friend—to ask if I could do a student documentary."

The result of that inquiry—thanks to Kiril Sokoloff, the Sun Valley businessman who was instrumental in bringing the Dalai Lama to Sun Valley and the force Steinfelt credits as helping get a final nod of approval for the film—are three films about the Dalai Lama's children's day event last September 12. The second film in the series, His Holiness the Dalai Lama Children's Day Event, premieres on Sunday, April 30, at Boise State.

A Window to the World's first project, Universal Compassion, is an eight-minute documentary gathering comments from Idaho children and teens who volunteer in the community, which screened as a gift to the Dalai Lama at the children's day event and is included in His Holiness the Dalai Lama Children's Day Event. Director Jesse Cordtz sums up the company's first film as, "a symbolic representation of how compassion expressed in any capacity will spread and grow to affect people on a global level."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Children's Day Event follows the 18 children honorees who were chosen by Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne to meet the Dalai Lama as the group was bused to Sun Valley, including interviews with the children and footage of the children's blessing from the Dalai Lama.

"It ends open-ended, with the 18 honorees talking about what they want to accomplish as an emerging compassionate generation," says Cordtz. "And that is exactly what the final film will be about."

Both Steinfelt and Cordtz hope the third film, Idaho's Compassionate Children (due out this summer), will serve to augment the trilogy as an effective educational tool.

"My goal is to help the children of the world," says Steinfelt. "I'd like these films to be teaching tools for children ... who didn't get to meet the Dalai Lama to use to learn compassion as well."

Since the children's day event last September, some of the 18 honorees have continued to work with filmmakers on projects beyond the film. What germinated as a small student documentary has grown into not only a series of films, but also into a Web site created by the honorees to be launched April 30. As for the future of the films, Steinfelt and Cordtz plan to submit Idaho's Compassionate Children to the Sundance Film Festival next year.

Sunday, April 30, 1 p.m., Boise State Special Events Center. A special opening ceremony includes the presentation of a sacred Napalese dance, a performance of "The Heart of Every Child" and a blessing by the nuns of Tinh Thuu Thien Tu Vietnamese Buddhist Temple. Additional screenings at 2:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Adults $5, children under 18 and Boise State students with ID FREE. Free activities at the Student Union Games Center with ticket stub.

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