Triton Professor’s New Film Explores Tibetans In Exile

Thursday, July 1, 2021 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

How does a culture survive while under threat from a dominant power? That’s a theme flowing through much of filmmaker Seth McClellan’s work. His 2017 documentary, “Little Wound’s Warriors,” profiled high school students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as they try to maintain their Lakota heritage amid a suicide epidemic.

McClellan’s most recent film, “Others Before Self,” is an intimate portrait of life in the Tibetan Children’s Village, a boarding school for young refugees from Tibet that’s located in Dharamsala, India. The school was founded by the Dalai Lama in 1960, in order to care for young people who had been orphaned or separated from their parents after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama began his permanent exile in 1959.

But while McClellan’s latest film continues his exploration of cultural resilience, its existence was far from preconceived. In fact, he got the idea after a chance encounter in early 2019 at Beer Shop in Downtown Oak Park. That’s where he met Mark Fredisdorf, a fellow Oak Park parent and former school superintendent who has worked extensively with Tibetans in exile.

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